WVC women's basketball: Snyder closes in on record as Fairmont State wins
Kaitlin Snyder and the third-seeded Fairmont State women's basketball team will fight another day, pulling away from No. 2 West Liberty on Friday to earn a 71-63 victory in the West Virginia Conference Tournament semifinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
Snyder finished with a team-high 20 points, giving the former Sissonville High School star 2,028 in her four-year career. Snyder needs just 14 points in today's 1 p.m. championship against the winner of Thursday afternoon's Seton Hill-Charleston game to break the record.
The school record is held by Kristen Gattuso, who scored 2,041 points from 2001-05.
Fairmont State (22-9), which last won the conference tournament in 2010 - in an overtime win against West Liberty - improved to 2-5 all-time in preliminary round games against West Liberty.
The Hilltoppers (21-8) held a 52-51 lead with 7:49 left when the Falcons gradually took control of the game. Fairmont State didn't trail again and led by nine on the fourth of four consecutive free throws from Snyder.
"I am tremendously disappointed," West Liberty Coach Lynn Ullom said. "That's 11 games now where we had double-digit leads and lost them all. I thought the game was lost in the first half. Probably as disappointed as I have been in any of my 22 years."
Ullom noted the 13 first-half offensive rebounds Fairmont State had, which led to a 31-27 lead at the intermission for the Falcons. Fairmont went on a 22-9 run to close out the first half.
Fairmont State Coach Steve McDonald, who took over the program in 2000, said he somewhat modeled his team after the Hilltoppers.
"When I got the job, there were two great programs in the league in Glenville State and West Liberty," McDonald said. "I literally studied both programs, but felt West Liberty's style was more to my liking. I thought if we could ever be good, not that we would have to beat them ... I have such respect for Lynn Ullom. I have taken a lot from him and his program and try to utilize it in ours."
Hailey Garrett had 15 points for Fairmont, while Briana Welch added 13, Hallie Gunnoe 11 and Tiffany Nicholson 10.
WVC Player of the Year Hillary Southworth had 26 to lead all scorers for West Liberty, which was playing in the semifinals for the 16th time in the last 18 years.
In Saturday's title game Snyder, who averages 17.3 points per game, will need just 14 to surpass an eight-year-old record, which hasn't receive much attention until recently.
"I don't really feel like anybody knows about it," Snyder said.
Gunnoe said it "feels good" to have the chance to be a part of history.
"I don't think it's a distraction," Gunnoe said. "None of us are selfish players and our team chemistry really showed. It feels really good."
Contact Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.