Brooke Kurucz

Fairmont State’s Brooke Kurucz dribbles the ball up the court.

FAIRMONT — Tonight’s an opportunity to get the momentum rolling after a week away from the court for Fairmont State women’s basketball — and they’ll likely need every ounce of it they can get.

The Falcons prepare to open a five-game stretch tonight against three of the top five preseason picks in the Mountain East Conference and 5-1 out-of-conference opponent Wayne State, as they host Charleston in a MEC battle at Joe Retton Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 pm.

While the upcoming slate of games may be one of the toughest the team faces all year — and could be fundamental in determining where the team sits in the league standings heading into the second portion of the season — head coach Stephanie Anderson said the team needs to focus on each individual game one at a time, and that starts tonight.

“They’re looking forward to the challenge. Our next five games are going to be a tough streak of games and we know that. We have to take it one game at a time and try to get some wins. They’re going to be important games for us,” she said.

“For all of our upcoming games, we just need to play our kind of basketball,” senior Brooke Kurucz said. “If we can play good defense, then the offense will take care of itself.”

Charleston boasts the third-best defense in the MEC on the season, holding opponents to an average of just 69.7 points per game. The team will look to set the tone and pace early during the matchup and are prepared for a mental challenge.

“Charleston always plays very tough defensively — it’s going to be a grind-it-out type of game. I think we need to continue on the same path and play our game for 40 minutes and set the tempo,” Anderson said.

“We just have to be confident in ourselves and our ability — we’re a very talented team and we need to believe in ourselves when we’re on the floor,” Kurucz said.

A continuing focal point for Fairmont is improvement on the boards — The team is last in the league in both rebounds per game (33.9) and rebounding margin (-12.7), and expects it’ll need a better presence on the glass to combat a size disadvantage, with just two six-footers on the roster, and only one additional player 5-foot-10 or taller.

“Over the past two games, the rebounding margin hasn’t been as much of an issue but it’s something we continue to work on because we’re a small team. I think we need to zone in on every possession and box out,” Anderson said.

“We all have to make it a priority. We have to focus, find bodies, and get them out when shots go up. We’ve been working on it every day and whenever you work on something each day in practice you’re bound to get better,” Kurucz said.

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