By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Concord Lady Lions came close to pulling off an upset against a talented Fairmont State Falcons squad on Saturday at the Carter Center.
But close doesn’t count in the conference standings.
Despite holding FSU without a field goal in the final five minutes of the game, Concord (4-9, 3-4 WVIAC) took a 57-54 loss — a result that included two technical foul shots by Fairmont State with two-tenths of a second left.
Only 17 of Concord’s 57 field-goal tries found the bottom of the basket. On 21 occasions, the Lady Lions offense consisted of one shot followed by a Fairmont State rebound. The Falcons (8-3, 6-1) ended with a 50 to 36 rebounding edge.
On the other end of the floor, the Falcons got 14 fast-break points and 28 points in the paint.
Amanda Smith led Concord with 13 points, going 8 for 8 at the free throw line, and Jacqueline Kestner had 11 points. Stephanie Wagner passed along five assists, Tanisha Williams led the rebounding stat line with six, and Leslie Mack pulled off three of Concord’s 10 steals. The Lady Lions had just nine turnovers.
The senior wearing No. 1 for Fairmont State, guard Kaitlin Snyder, lived up to her jersey number. She topped the Falcons with six assists and five steals while scoring 15 points and collecting 10 rebounds.
Concord head coach Kenny Osborne said, “Snyder, anytime the ball’s in her hands, she’s going to make something happen.”
Summers County High School graduate Hallie Gunnoe led Fairmont State in scoring with 16 points, hitting 7 of 12 shots from the floor and going 2 for 2 at the foul line. The Falcons made only one of 18 three-point tries but were 12 of 13 in free throws.
Fairmont State was 22 for 63 from the floor. Osborne said, “Our zone gave them some problems; they didn’t shoot the ball very well. But you’ve got to get the rebounds to get the easy baskets.”
The Lady Lions spotted the visitors a 4-0 lead, getting ahead in the game 14-13 on a three-pointer by Amanda Smith with 12:30 left before halftime. That started a 15 to 4 Concord run leading to the game’s largest point spread, 26-17 with 5:49 on the clock.
Concord’s 31-26 halftime margin dissolved in the first seven minutes of the second period, followed by four lead changes. Smith made a pair of foul shots with 1:20 left to cut Fairmont State’s lead to 55-54.
Snyder stole the ball in the final minute, but the Lady Lions’ defense held and the shot clock expired on Fairmont State’s possession.
Smith made a final attempt to win the game with a second left, but it was off the mark. On the rebounding try, the refs called a simultaneous possession. The arrow pointed in Fairmont State’s favor, closing the door on a comeback.
At that point, Concord was called for the game’s only technical foul, and the margin of victory was secured with Snyder’s free throws at the other end of the floor.
Osborne said, “They’re a very good team. They made a run. They’ve got older kids. ... You’re not going to hold Fairmont down the whole game.”
“We’re limited in our numbers right now, (limited in) what we can and can’t do, and we got a little bit winded, fatigued, and we didn’t do a very good job fighting through that. That was the difference in the game.”
The Concordians have a quick turnaround, playing on Monday night at Davis & Elkins followed by home games later in the week with Alderson-Broaddus and West Liberty.
“We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Osborne said. “We’ve got to regroup, refocus and go to D&E on Monday.”
— Contact Tom Bone