Times West Virginian
GREENSBURG, Pa. —
Fairmont State’s Kaitlin Snyder came up with a game-saving steal with 10 seconds remaining to help the Lady Falcons hold off a furious comeback bid by Seton Hill here Thursday night and record a hard-fought 72-71 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at the McKenna Center.
The win improved the Lady Falcons to 18-9 overall and to 15-6 in the WVIAC. It also secured a third-place finish for FSU in the final 15-team regular-season league standings. The Lady Falcons will close out the regular season Saturday on Senior Day with a 2 p.m. home contest at the Joe Retton Arena against Ohio Valley.
Seton Hill, which lost for the second time this season by one point to Fairmont, fell to 15-12 overall and to 12-9 in the league.
On Seton Hill’s next-to-last possession standout point guard Paige Alviani, who had drained two big 3-point field goals in the final 3:31 to help pull the Lady Griffins back into contention, missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The rebound bounced wildly to the corner where Seton Hill’s Kelly Brennan attempted to save it inbounds. Fairmont’s Hailey Garrett got control of the loose ball and was foul by the Lady Griffins’ Katie Gattuso with 16.4 seconds left. After the two traded words, Garrett was whistled for a technical foul putting Alviani on the line for two shots and a chance to tie the game.
Alviani, who was 5-of-5 at the foul line until that point made the first free throw to make it 72-71, but missed the second. The game then returned to the point of interruption prior to the technical and Garrett was sent to the free throw stripe for a one-and-one. She missed her attempt and Gattuso cleared the rebound for Seton Hill.
On the Lady Griffins’ final possession Alviani drove the baseline but got caught too far under the basket. She then attempted a pass for Brennan near the foul line which Snyder stole, dribbled to the other end of the floor and ran out the clock.
“I assumed their best player No. 12 (Alviani) was going to drive and once she got trapped under the basket I was able to anticipate the next pass and thankfully grabbed the ball and took it down the court where time expired,” said Snyder, who finished with 14 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for FSU.
Fairmont State came out on fire Thursday night, connecting on 11 of its first 15 field goal attempts which led to a 26-9 lead. The margin ballooned to as many as 20 in the first half before Seton Hill whittled it down to 13 at 44-31 at the break.
In the second half the Lady Griffins methodically chipped away at Fairmont’s lead and eventually tied the contest twice at 68 with 1:25 remaining and again at 70 with 56 seconds left.
“We came out playing well against them early and had a good lead at halftime, but coach Mac (Steve McDonald) always tells us that the halftime score doesn’t mean anything,” said Fairmont’s Briana Welch, who led the Lady Falcons with 16 points and six rebounds. “In the second half they came out determined and at one point tied us twice. When that happened we really had to come together as a team and we did.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this close to my teammates before. We got it done tonight in a tough situation and got a huge win.”
With the score tied at 70 Snyder drove in for a 12-foot jumper from the wing which was off of the mark. Garrett, however, was there for the rebound and putback basket with 40 seconds left which ultimately made the difference in the game giving FSU a 72-70 lead.
“I knew I had to crash the boards hard there in case there was a miss,” said Garrett, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to post her 11th double-double of the year. “It was a crucial possession for us and I just went after it strong and put it back in.”
FSU ended up shooting 51.7 percent from the field (30-of-58) in the victory, including a 6-of-13 performance from 3-point range. The Lady Falcons also out-rebounded the Lady Griffins, 36-31. About the only thing Fairmont didn’t do well in the victory was shoot free throws. FSU was just 6-of-16 from the foul line in the loss (37.5 percent).
“I love the way we started the game,” said McDonald. “We kind of methodically took control. We shot the ball well all night, particularly in the first half.
“We knew Seton Hill would make a run at us. They’re a good team and they’re a team which never, ever quits. We expected it to tightened up near the end which it did and I was just very pleased with the composure and determination our kids showed in the final eight minutes of the game. The girls just really pulled together and got a huge win for us.”
Emily Lohr added 15 points for FSU, while Tiffany Nicholson chipped in nine.
Seton Hill was led by Alviani’s 21 points and seven rebounds. The Lady Griffins also got 20 points and 11 rebounds from Gattuso. It was her league-leading 18th double-double of the season.