Senior Day is always special.
Fairmont State seniors Kaitlin Snyder and Tiffany Nicholson were determined Saturday it would stay that way at the Joe Retton Arena.
Trailing last-place Ohio Valley by 10 points at the half, FSU led by Snyder, Nicholson and a host of other Lady Falcons erupted for 51 second-half points and a regular-season ending 77-70 victory over the Lady Fighting Scots.
“We were down 10 versus the last-place team in the conference and that was definitely motivation for us to come out in the second half and move the ball more which led to us getting open looks in the lane,” said Snyder, who finished with a game-high 19 points, 15 of which came after the break. “They were playing a 2-3 zone and against a zone you can’t be stagnant. In the first half I think we were a little stagnant, but in the second half our guards moved better and we shared the basketball a lot more and like I said got open looks and took advantage of them.”
The win improved the Lady Falcons to 19-9 overall and to 16-6 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. FSU finished third in the 15-team WVIAC standings and will host an opening-round league tournament game Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. against 14th place Wheeling Jesuit University (8-18, 5-17) at the Joe Retton Arena. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students. There will be no reserved seating.
Nicholson, who finished with 16 points Saturday, including 10 in the second half, was FSU’s most successful player at finding her teammates open. The senior guard from Mannington finished with a career-high eight assists and also recorded five steals.
“I think we may have come in thinking it was going to be an easy game and it wasn’t. Our first-half performance was awful,” said Nicholson, who moved into 25th place in school history in career scoring in the win with 927 points. “We were down by a lot. In the second half we came out determined not to lose on Senior Day, especially for our seniors who don’t get to play a lot.
“In the second half we played a lot better. I like to share the ball and today I looked to do that as much as I could.”
Nicholson was able to find a number of her teammates open for crucial buckets, but one of the biggest beneficiaries was sophomore center Hailey Garrett, who finished with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half. She also grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists of her own.
In addition, Fairmont got 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds from sophomore forward Emily Lohr and six points and three rebounds from Hallie Gunnoe.
Ohio Valley, which dropped to 2-24 overall and to 2-20 in the league and will visit second-place West Liberty Monday evening in its WVIAC Tournament opener, outscored FSU 20-4 in the final 5:48 of the opening half to build a 36-26 lead.
In the second half, though, Fairmont came out and quickly got back within four before the Lady Fighting Scots pushed the lead back to nine at 49-40 with 12:45 left to go. At that point FSU exploded on a 20-9 run to take the lead for good at 60-58 with 6:07 remaining. Fairmont then outscored the Lady Fighting Scots, 11-6 in the game’s final 3:28 to seal the victory.
“Our kids are normal kids,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “They were all excited today before the game for our five seniors and they wanted to play well. But someone forgot to give Ohio Valley the memo. They came out and played really, really hard and had a lead on us which really didn’t surprise me to be honest. I think they’re very well coached.
“It also didn’t surprise me that we came back in the second half and won the game. That didn’t surprise me either because that’s basketball at this time of the year. It can be a little crazy.”
As noted, FSU will host Wheeling Jesuit Monday night. The Lady Falcons recorded a pair of close wins over Lady Cardinals during the regular season. Fairmont’s women have made appearances in the league tournament quarterfinals in nine of the last 10 years. The women’s quarterfinal round of the league tourney will begin Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Senior Day is always special.
University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins
The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.
Huggins signs junior college guard
Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.
HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing
The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.
Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0
Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.
FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors
Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
• A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.
COLUMN: Extend summer practices without over-extending athletes
Last week we told you about a proposal that would extend the summer practice period for West Virginia high schools.
It’s already cleared the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Board of Control. Now it’s up to the West Virginia Board of Education to decide if the current three-week window should be expanded by five weeks.
Bussie looks forward to WNBA
On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball
It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Pirates finish off suspended game, fall in nightcap
Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole’s winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete
The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.
- More Sports Headlines
- University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins