By Nick Cammuso
Times West Virginian
After an emotionally charged, hyped game with No. 3 West Liberty last Saturday, Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team returns to the court tonight when it visits Seton Hill (Pa.).
The men’s contest, set for 7:30 p.m., will follow the FSU-Seton Hill women at 5:30 p.m.
The Griffin men enter play on a bit of a roll, having won two straight at home over Shepherd (68-61) and West Virginia Wesleyan (60-56).
FSU (18-6, 16-4 WVIAC), conversely, saw its three-game win streak come to an end over the weekend with a 103-99 home loss to the Hilltoppers. Senior guard Isaac Thornton finished with 44 points — the second-highest single-game total in school history — to earn league player of the week honors.
While this season Seton Hill (13-11, 10-10) hasn’t won or lost more than three games in a row, it has been more balanced when it comes to scoring, as seven players average at least 6.8 points per game.
Junior 6-4 swingman Max Kenyi leads the way with 13.1 points per game, while 6-7 junior forward Malachi Leonard also averages double figures at 12.7.
David Windsor (8.7 points), Youngstown State transfer Nate Perry (8.2), Lenjo Kilo (8.1) and Kameron Taylor (7.8) also factor into the scoring, which as a team ranks second to last in the WVIAC at 67.5 points per game.
Defense, though, is Seton Hill’s hallmark. The Griffins allow a league-low 65.5 points per game and allow opponents to shoot 42.6 percent from the field, which ranks third in the conference.
In all, Seton Hill has given up 70 points on eight occasions this season. One of the many times it didn’t happen was the last time it played FSU — a 69-53 victory at Joe Retton Arena on Jan. 7.
On that night, the Falcons held Seton Hill to 34 percent shooting while four FSU players reached double-digit scoring.
For the women, FSU (17-9, 14-6) is looking to begin a winning streak after rolling past non-conference Washington Adventist at home, 73-57, Monday night.
Kaitlin Snyder scored 24 points in the win and hit more than half her shots, going 7 of 13, for the first time all season. The senior guard scored 28 points and hit the game-winning layup with eight seconds left in the last meeting with Seton Hill (15-11, 12-8), a 59-58 overtime win back in early January.
The Lady Griffins’ play has improved of late, having won three straight over Wheeling Jesuit (70-52), Shepherd (70-65) and West Virginia Wesleyan (90-60). Before then, they had dropped six of eight.
The 90 points against Wesleyan were a season high, as Seton Hill shot 52.2 percent from the floor, and 40 percent on 3-pointers while making eight.
Junior forward Katie Gattuso leads the Griffins with 17.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. The 6-0 forward’s rebounding total is tops in the WVIAC, while she ranks sixth in scoring right behind Snyder (17.6). She’s the lone conference women’s player who is averaging a double-double in two categories.
Junior guard Paige Alviani averages 15.5 points, good for eighth in the league, while Tiara Stossel adds 9.8 and Meghan Mastroianni 8.1.
Email Nick Cammuso at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @NickCammusoTWV.com.