By Nick Cammuso
Times West Virginian
If Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team were planning on licking its collective wounds after a surprising road loss at Seton Hill (Pa.) Thursday, the Falcons didn’t have much time to do so.
After all, they were back at work the very next day — even before the sun came up.
“We went very, very early. About 5 a.m.,” first-year FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said of Friday morning’s rise-and-run practice. “Coaches were not happy and I was not happy. We needed to do something to get their attention, and hopefully that did.”
Now, the Falcons hope that early start leads to a better finish today when they close out the regular season with a conference matchup versus Ohio Valley at the Joe Retton Arena.
The men’s contest, set for 4 p.m., will follow the 2 p.m. women’s game.
On Thursday, the Falcons dug themselves a 15-point halftime hole they never could completely climb out of in a 76-73 defeat.
“We didn’t have much energy to start the game; I’m not sure why that was. Typically, when we’ve lost we’ve got behind early in the game and our energy wasn’t there. We’ve got to bounce back,” Calhoun said.
Going by recent history, that shouldn’t be an issue against a struggling OVU program. The Fighting Scots enter play at 3-24 overall, 2-19 in the conference and have lost 11 straight games in Fairmont.
Ashton Brown is the only Ohio Valley player averaging double figures, scoring 19 points per contest. He’s sixth in the WVIAC in scoring average and averages a team-high four assists per game.
Prior to today’s game, FSU (18-7, 16-5) will pay tribute to the seven seniors on its roster: Andrew Gunnoe, Isaiah Hill, Myles Petretti, Melvin Rhodes, Malik Stith, Isaac Thornton and Rudy Roberts.
Thornton became just the eighth player in school history to score more than 2,000 points. He is currently eighth in school history with 2,002 career points.
“They’ve been through quite a bit,” Calhoun said of his senior class. “Any time you have a coaching change its very difficult. This coaching change was late — I wasn’t hired until April — so we had to really scramble and find players.
“The five (seniors) who were here at Fairmont State did an unbelievable job. I think Isaac (Thornton) gets a lot of the credit, but it should go out to the other guys. All the seniors on the roster have really bought into my system and the coaches’ system. I think that’s difficult to do. When you throw a team together in basically a month, I think these seniors have been instrumental. They have a chance to get to the NCAA tournament, to win 20 games, things this program hasn’t done in a long time.”
In the first matchup against Ohio Valley, Fairmont State cruised past the Fighting Scots, 84-54. Chase Morgan led the Falcons with 14 points as the team shot 52 percent from the floor.
Fairmont State’s women enter play third in the WVIAC with a record of 18-9 overall and 15-6 in conference. Following the game, the Falcons will honor five seniors: Alana George, Katelyn Kaminski, Tiffany Nicholson, Briana Welch and Kaitlin Snyder.
Hailey Garrett scored a team-high 16 points in Fairmont State’s 68-46 victory over Ohio Valley in Vienna.
Ohio Valley comes into Saturday’s game with a record of 2-23 and 2-19 mark in the WVIAC.
Jasmine Gibson leads OVU in scoring, averaging 15.8 points per game and is third in the conference in field goal percentage. Shelby Way is averaging 12 points and five rebounds, while Kayla Parsley is averaging just shy of a double-double (10.4 points, 9.6 rebounds).
• Fairmont State’s women have secured a WVIAC first-round home game on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The men, meanwhile, have locked up the No. 2 seed in the league tournament and will play home Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Email Nick Cammuso at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter@NickCammusoTWV.