Times West Virginian
It took the better part of 11 minutes for Fairmont State’s Lady Falcons’ offense to heat up here on a cold afternoon at the Snyder Activities Center.
However, when FSU’s offense did catch fire, it torched Ohio Valley and cruised to a 68-46 victory over the Lady Fighting Scots.
Fairmont managed just nine points in the game’s first 11 minutes and found itself trailing winless Ohio Valley 11-9 with 8:57 left in the opening half. A 15-foot jumper by FSU’s Hailey Garrett at the 8:51 mark ignited the spark in Fairmont, which resulted in the Lady Falcons outscoring OVU 29-5 during the remaining time in the opening half to take a commanding 38-16 lead at the break.
Garrett and Briana Welch keyed the dominating 29-5 run to end the half for Fairmont. Both players scored 10 points apiece on the spurt. Garrett finished with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds, while Welch contributed 14 points.
“We did have a slow start and we knew for us to have success we needed to play faster,” said Welch, who has reached double figures in three straight games now for the Lady Falcons, who improved to 7-3 overall and to 5-1 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with the win. “Coach Mac (Steve McDonald) wanted the game to go up and down the floor. We didn’t do that early, but we got together, got after them defensively and changed the tempo there in our favor which resulted in us finishing the half strong.
“Our plan was to press and trap them right from the start and we didn’t do a good job of that early. Once we were able to do that, though, things just turned in our favor.”
Fairmont’s defense was dominating in the first half. The Lady Falcons held Ohio Valley to just six total field goals in the first 20 minutes, including just one in the last 8:56 of the opening half.
FSU then opened the second half on a 10-2 run to establish a 30-point, 48-18, advantage with 17:46 remaining and for all intents and purposes the contest was over.
“We were trying to get the game to go up and down the floor in the first eight, nine or 10 minutes but they were playing a halfcourt game and as a result the tempo was just very slow,” said McDonald. “Around the nine-minute mark we made one or two plays there which just ignited us. When we rebound, move the ball and play fast we tend to play better and you saw that there in the last nine minutes of the first half.
“We started the second half right where we left off and got an even bigger lead and then we were able to get everyone in the game today which is always nice. I like the way some of our bench players performed in extended minutes. This was a nice team win for us.”
Fairmont forced OVU to commit 30 turnovers and held the Lady Fighting Scots to just 34.7 percent shooting from the field (17-of-49), including a dismal 1-of-17 showing from 3-point range. Ohio Valley, which fell to 0-10 overall and to 0-5 in the league, also missed 12 free throws in the loss.
FSU, on the other hand, was balanced in both scoring and rebounds. As noted, Garrett and Welch led FSU with 16 and 14 points respectively. The Lady Falcons also got 12 points, five rebounds and five assists from Kaitlin Snyder, nine points, six rebounds and five assists from Hallie Gunnoe and eight points and six boards from Tiffany Nicholson.
Ohio Valley had two plays record double-doubles in the loss, but their efforts weren’t nearly enough against the balanced Lady Falcons. Jasmine Gibson led OVU with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Kayla Parsley chipped in 10 points and a game-high 15 boards.
Fairmont State’s women will be back in action Monday evening when they return to the Joe Retton Arena to host Seton Hill (Pa.) University for their first home game since Dec. 8. That contest, which is the first of a doubleheader, has been moved from 5:30 p.m. to a 4 p.m. start. FSU’s men will then tangle with Seton Hill at 6 p.m.