WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. - The West Liberty University women's basketball team went back-and-forth with Fairmont State Saturday afternoon, but came up short falling 91-85 inside the ASRC.
Arriana Manzay scored 32 points on 14-for-16 shooting, pulled in nine rebounds, and tied a career-high with five blocks, as she eclipsed 1,000 career points in the Black and Gold. Karly McCutcheon also went over 1,000 career points on a first-half three pointer, she finished with 10 in the game. Manzay and McCutcheon become members 36 and 37 in the 1,000 point club on the hilltop.
10 of the game's 12 lead changes came in the fourth quarter, which also featured three ties, and it was the Fighting Falcons who were able to hold on in the end improving to 20-8 overall and 14-6 in the MEC taking sole possession of fourth place. The Hilltoppers drop to 15-11 and 13-7 in MEC action.
West Liberty got out in front with a narrow 12-7 margin just over halfway into the first quarter and held the lead until a pair of late three pointers by Fairmont State swung the lead over to the Falcons (20-18) after the opening 10 minutes.
The momentum for Fairmont State continued into the start of the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to go up 29-20. The Falcon lead got to as many as 11 twice near the midway point in the second quarter, but a Corinne Thomas three pointer started a 7-0 spurt to get the Hilltoppers right back within four at the three minute mark.
A last second triple sent Fairmont State to the break with a 45-39 advantage.
Other than one tie, the Falcons kept firm hold on the lead throughout the third quarter. Another Thomas three pointer closed out the third frame for the Black and Gold and gave them some momentum heading into the final 10 minutes trailing by just four points.
A 7-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter gave the Hilltoppers the lead. Grace Faulk got the run started with a long ball, then assisted on the three by Thomas for the lead in the first minute of the fourth frame.
A three-plus minute stretch from 5:54-2:44 saw the teams go shot for shot energizing both fan bases in a rowdy ASRC. Faulk added three more threes on the run, but the Falcons would be right there to answer each time.
Fairmont State broke the back-and-forth scoring stretch with six straight points taking a four-point lead approaching one minute to play. The Hilltoppers were able to get within two off a Manzay lay-in, but no closer as Fairmont State made each of its four foul shots in the final 30 seconds to hold on for the victory.
FSU capitalized on 21 first half turnovers converting them into 29 points aiding the early lead. The Black and Gold cleaned it up in the second half committing just nine turnovers over the final 20 minutes. The Falcons also used a 14-9 offensive rebounding advantage to double the second chance points of West Liberty (16-8).
WLU outshot Fairmont State 15-8 from three led by Faulk's six, which ties a career high. Faulk finished with 18 points, while Thomas added five three pointers scoring 15 points.
The Falcons combatted the disadvantage beyond the arc with a 48-34 edge in points in the paint.
The Hilltoppers assisted on 28 of their 32 made baskets. McCutcheon and Sarda had nine each, tying McCutcheon's career-high. Sarda added a career-high nine rebounds and seven points filling the stat sheet.
West Liberty heads to its final week of the regular season featuring a road trip to Notre Dame College on Wednesday, then a home finale against Wheeling on Saturday.