By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State’s Kaitlin Snyder only made two baskets Saturday afternoon against visiting Davis & Elkins at the Joe Retton Arena.
The second and final bucket, however, was arguably one of the biggest field goals of her career.
FSU’s senior All-American point guard nailed an off-balance, 10-foot baseline desperation jumper in the waning seconds with the shot clock running out to help the Lady Falcons halt a three-game losing streak with a thrilling 51-50 come-from-behind victory over the Lady Senators.
“I was definitely trying to make it,” said Snyder, who prior to hitting her game-winning shot was an uncharacteristically dismal 1-of-16 on field goal attempts for the game. “We had a specific play drawn up. It was supposed to go to Hailey (Garrett), who really played so well for us today. She really got it going for us. He said if she doesn’t get it I want you to go in and score. I did it and I’m happy.
“Offensively I struggled today. Every time I’ve played D&E they’ve played tremendous defense so I was struggling. Luckily, Hailey came up big and Courtney (Swiger) came off the bench and played extremely well for us. I wanted to get this win. It was big for us.”
So was Snyder’s game-winning basket as the shot clock expired which ended FSU’s losing streak and kept the Lady Falcons in second place in the 15-team West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
“She made the game-winning shot and that’s all that matters,” said a smiling Garrett, who literally carried FSU offensively for much of the contest, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds. “It was a heckvua game. It was very fun to play in and I’m just very proud of my teammates. We all stepped it up today when we had to and got a win in a great game.”
D&E had one final shot to win the contest with six seconds left. Page Turner drove the basketball to the bucket under heavy pressure but her layup attempt sailed over the rim and rolled out of bounds as time ran out.
“I so proud of our kids,” said FSU coach Steve McDonald. “I’m thrilled for them. I thought the leadership Hailey Garrett showed for us today was fantastic.”
Fairmont struggled for the game’s first 26 minutes and a lot of the credit for that has to go to Davis & Elkins. The Lady Senators held FSU to a season-low 19 points in the first half and had built a 37-25 lead 6:15 into the second half. That’s when McDonald called a timeout and about out of options appealed to his team to employ an aggressive, trapping defense all over the floor which changed the whole complexion of the contest.
“That defense is only as good as the players executing it and today after that one timeout when we put them in it our kids made up their minds that they were going to get after it,” said McDonald. “We forced a few turnovers in a row there and it really changed the whole momentum in the game.”
With Snyder struggling and its defense finally clicking players like Emily Lohr, Courtney Swiger and Briana Welch stepped it up offensively in the second half to help Garrett. Lohr finished with nine points all of which came in the final half, Welch added seven points and seven rebounds, including five points and six boards in the final 20 minutes and Swiger chipped in all five of her points in the game’s final five minutes, including a huge three-point play on a feed from Garrett which tied the contest for the first time at 44.
“I just did what I had to do today to help my team out,” said Swiger. “With Hailey and I playing high school together we know each other pretty well and she found me and I got it to go down. This was a huge win for us.”
Lohr, who was 0-of-3 shooting in the first half but 4-of-6 in the second, agrees.
“We definitely proved today we can have a surge of energy and come back,” said Lohr. “We’re not going to stay defeated. I’m proud of this team. We found a way to get it done and get a big win.”
The victory improved FSU to 12-6 overall and to 10-3 in the WVIAC. D&E, which saw its four-game winning streak halted with the loss, fell to 9-8 overall and to 8-5 in the league.
The Lady Senators were led by Alicia Lentz and Sharmaine Baker, who both finished with 10 points. Jorden Lykes chipped in nine points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
Fairmont State will be back in action Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. at the Joe Retton Arena when it looks to avenge one of its three conference losses against the University of Charleston. UC rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to topple FSU in December, 62-59.