By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian
Kaitlin Snyder is known around the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as a scorer.
But if the truth be known, Snyder is much more of an all-around player than she gets credit for.
Thursday evening in front of over 1,100 fans at the Joe Retton Arena, Fairmont State’s athletically-gifted senior point guard turned in arguably one of the best all-around performances of her career as she ended up just one assist shy of recording her first triple-double to help lead the Lady Falcons to a big 83-68 victory over the University of Charleston.
Snyder led all scorers with 21 points, 15 of which came in the second half. She also grabbed a career and team-high 15 rebounds and dished out a career-high tying nine assists. In addition, she also recorded a game-high five steals.
“It wasn’t just me,” said Snyder, who did suffer an uncharacteristic 11 turnovers in the victory. “I thought we all stepped up and played with a lot more energy in the second half. That contributed to a lot of our steals and the easy buckets we got off of them.
“I haven’t played well the past two games and I really wanted to redeem myself. I kind of feel like I did so I’m happy with that. If things aren’t going well for me I try to rebound and do other things and if I can do that then it kind of gets me going which I think was the case tonight.”
Fairmont led 38-33 at the half, but it was in the second 20 minutes where the Lady Falcons took their game to another level and ran away from the Lady Golden Eagles. Nursing a 40-37 lead with 18 minutes remaining FSU turned up its defensive intensity and put a 16-0 run on UC over the course of the next four minutes to open a 56-37 advantage.
“We did pretty good in the first half, but Hailey (Garrett) and I got in foul trouble so Courtney (Swiger) and Alana (George) came off of the bench and gave us some good minutes and played really well for us,” said FSU’s Tiffany Nicholson, who scored 11 of her 16 points in the final half. “In the second half it all started on defense for us. We turned up our pressure, got turnovers and when we got those turnovers we made a lot of buckets on them on the other end.”
Briana Welch, who finished with 12 points, including eight in the second half, agrees.
“Coach came in calm at halftime and told us we really needed to get after them in the second half,” said Welch. “In the first half we were kind of laid back and on our heels. In the second half he told us to play on our toes, really get after them, capitalize on the the fast breaks with the turnovers we forced and we did that.”
Trailing 70-51 with eight minutes remaining, UC mounted a furious rally which saw them cut FSU’s 19-point lead to nine at 77-68 with 2:33 left to play. The Lady Falcons, though, scored the last six points of the game to seal the victory and improve to 13-6 overall and to 11-3 in the WVIAC. Emily Lohr added 12 points for FSU and Hallie Gunnoe chipped in 11 — all of which came in the opening half. The victory also helped Fairmont secure its stronghold on second place in the league.
“We didn’t play poorly in the first half, but boy in the first five minutes of the second half we really played well and got it going,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald, who recorded his 249th victory with the Lady Falcons. “Then we had a stretch where we just defended unbelievably well and that was the difference in the game. It seemed like we had five straight steals and scored off of every one of them. It may have only been two or three, but that was the final turning point in the game.
“The effort we gave tonight in the second half was crucial. We’re preaching to our kids — effort, energy and execution. It’s hard to get that sometimes. At this point in the year effort and energy won’t win you games. You have to have execution on top of that and I think we did execute some things very well tonight particularly in the second half.”
UC, which saw its three-game winning streak halted with the loss, fell to 10-8 overall and to 7-7 in the league. The Lady Golden Eagles were led by Chelsea Brumby’s 14 points. LeAnne Ross added 11 and Tianni Kelly and Kayla Dozier both finished with 10.
The Lady Falcons will be back in action Saturday afternoon when they visit Buckhannon for a 2 p.m. contest against West Virginia Wesleyan at the Rockefeller Center.