Times West Virginian
In a battle of two teams headed in different directions it was streaking seventh-place West Virginia State which turned in a dominating second-half performance and toppled flailing Fairmont State, 72-62, here Saturday evening at Fleming Hall.
The Lady Yellow Jackets, who possess the second-longest current winning streak in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, reeled off their sixth straight victory thanks to big second-half outings by Jasmine Blanton, Asia Greenleaf and India Taste.
Those three combined for 38 of State’s 45 second-half points and helped key a game-changing 14-0 run midway through the final 20 minutes which gave the Lady Yellow Jackets control of the contest for good.
Blanton finished with a team-high 27 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Taste added 12 points, 10 of which came in the second half and Greenleaf, who finished with a dozen points too, got all of hers in the final 20 minutes. She also led State with nine rebounds.
Trailing 38-33, Greenleaf, who was held completely in check in the opening half, caught fire and reeled off seven unanswered points to start the Lady Yellow Jackets’ 14-0 spurt which gave them a 47-38 lead with 10:59 remaining. State eventually led by as many as 12 before Fairmont’s Kaitlin Snyder turned in a heroic effort and single-handedly tried to get her offensively-challenged team back in the contest. From the 9:55 mark until 3:33, Snyder exploded for 19 consecutive points to help FSU trim the margin to six at 65-59. The Lady Falcons, however, could get not closer as State outscored Fairmont in the final three minutes 7-3 to record the 10-point win.
The victory improved West Virginia State to 10-11 overall and to 9-8 in league play. Fairmont, on the other hand, lost for the fifth time in eight games. The Lady Falcons, who are now 14-8 overall and 12-5 in the WVIAC, lost their stronghold on second place in the league thanks to their current slump and fell Saturday from second place to third place.
“Give West Virginia State a great deal of credit for their play today and in recent games,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “They’re on a six-game winning streak and they’re playing very, very well. They’re playing with a great deal of confidence right now. They’re playing hard and they’re listening to their coach and doing what’s asked of them. They’re a good basketball team and they played extremely well tonight.”
State shot nearly 50 percent from the field in the win, including 52 percent (14-of-27) in the second half when it found success attacking FSU’s defense inside. The Lady Yellow Jackets also made 16-of-18 free throws in the victory, including a 14-of-16 performance in the final 20 minutes.
Fairmont State, on the other hand, continued to struggle offensively. The Lady Falcons had just 11 second-half field goals, seven of which came from Snyder. FSU was just 11-of-31 from the field in the second half (35.4 percent).
Snyder led FSU with 29 points. She also had six steals, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
The only other FSU player to finish in double figures in the scoring column was Hailey Garrett, who ended up with 15 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots. Fourteen of her points, however, came in the game’s first 29 minutes. Tiffany Nicholson added eight points, but had just two in the second half. No other Lady Falcon scored more than four in the loss.
A little over a month ago FSU had defeated West Virginia State in Fairmont 66-50.
The Lady Falcons return to action Monday with a big showdown with fourth-place Pitt-Johnstown (Pa.) University at 5:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena. UPJ comes to town Monday having won six of its last seven games.