The most competitive men's basketball team to leave the West Virginia Conference and not join the Mountain East went out with a bang on Friday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Isaac Thornton made one of two free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining and a Casey Ainslie 60-foot heave bounced off the backboard as Fairmont State survived with a 75-74 WVC Tournament semifinal overtime victory over Alderson-Broaddus.
Second-seeded Fairmont (22-7) heads to today's 3:40 p.m. championship game against the winner of Friday's late contest between West Liberty and Wheeling Jesuit.
Thornton, the former Martinsburg High School star, who finished off the Bulldogs' 2009 Class AAA state championship game with clutch free throws, didn't score in the first half on Thursday.
However, he finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists for Coach Jerrod Calhoun's team.
"It's a shame somebody had to lose, a lot of good players in that game," Calhoun said. "Coach (Greg) Zimmerman's a heck of a coach. I'm hoping they get into the NCAA Tournament."
The game ended on a controversial foul call as Thornton drove to the basket and went to the floor against the defense of Richard Lemon. Lemon's fifth foul sent him to the bench and Thornton to the line. Thornton made the first, but the second bounced off.
"I tell our guys at the end of the game, you have to get it to the rim and then you force the officials to make a call," said Calhoun, a former West Virginia University assistant. "I'd have to see the tape, but I think it was a foul."