Jaimie Merinar cutline

Fairmont’s State freshman forward Jaimie Merinar shoots a jumper against Slippery Rock earlier this season. The Lady Falcons host nationally ranked Glenville State tonight at the Joe Retton Arena.

The marquee women’s basketball program in the West Virginia Conference will be on display Monday evening at the Joe Retton Arena.

Glenville State College, the No. 9 team in the nation in NCAA Division II, will invade Fairmont State’s campus tonight for a 5:30 p.m. showdown with the Lady Falcons.

GSC brings a nine-game winning streak into tonight’s contest and is 15-2 overall, 6-0 in the WVC and currently in second place in the league. Glenville’s only losses this season came in a December tournament in Hawaii when it fell 72-71 in overtime to Minnesota State-Moorhead and 69-57 to current No. 2 Washburn University.

FSU, on the other hand, is 12-3 overall this season, 5-1 in the WVC and currently in third place. The Lady Falcons have won two in a row and five of their last six outings.

The contest will be the first of a doubleheader between the schools. The men’s teams will square off at 7:30 p.m.

Since the 2001-02 season Glenville State’s women have been a force in D-II basketball. The Lady Pioneers have been nationally-ranked every year and have made five straight trips to the national tournament. GSC made the Final Four in 2002 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2003, 2004 and 2006. During that span and including its 17 games this season Glenville State has compiled an impressive 156-25 (.862) record.

“Glenville is very good and that’s certainly no big surprise, but I think we have a very good basketball team as well,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “I think you’re going to see two good teams match up here Monday night.

“The X’s and O’s in this game won’t be a surprise to either side. What you’re going to see is two good basketball teams going after each other.”

The Lady Pioneers are led by 5-8 senior guard Rachel Redick, who averages 21.0 points per game and leads the WVC in scoring. She recently became only the eighth female player in league history to go over the 2,000-point mark for her career and is the Lady Pioneers’ all-time leading scorer.

GSC also gets 15.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per outing from 6-2 senior center Casey Taylor and 11.0 points and 8.0 rebounds from 5-11 freshman forward Melanie Oliver.

The Lady Pioneers won last year’s game with FSU at the Joe Retton Arena by a 64-46 score.

“We feel like we kind of got embarrassed on our home court last year by Glenville,” said FSU senior point guard Jenna Eckleberry. “That’s what they’ll do to any team they play if you’re not ready to play them. They keep coming and never quit.

“We need to come out ready to play at a high level and we have to maintain that for 40 minutes Monday night. We all know how good Glenville is and you have to be motivated to play the No. 9 team in the nation.”

On the men’s side both Fairmont State and Glenville State come into the contest struggling. However, in this game that means nothing. Last season the Pioneers had just one win when they came to Fairmont and toppled the Falcons, 64-61. It was Glenville’s sixth straight win in the series between the two schools.

GSC is 3-13 overall, 0-7 and in last place in the WVC. The Pioneers have lost 13 in a row since a 3-0 start.

FSU, on the other hand, is 7-8 overall, 1-5 in the conference and in 12th place. The Falcons have dropped four in a row and six of their last eight.

“We’ve always had some big rivalries in this conference and Glenville is one of those and I honestly believe for Glenville this is the rivalry in the league so our kids have to understand that we’ve got to be ready because they’re going to come in here and play their best basketball,” said Falcon coach Tim Murphy. “We haven’t beaten them in something like 20,000 years it seems. I don’t know why but we’ve definitely lost some close, tough ball games to them recently.”

Fairmont’s men have not won against the Pioneers since the 1999-2000 season.

FSU sophomore guard Chris Carey, senior forward John Dillingham and sophomore forward/center Jamal Womble have all been suspended from the squad for a violation of team rules and will not play in tonight’s game.

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