#2 Fairmont State def. #7 Glenville State, 77-72

Photo: Sam Santilli

#2 Fairmont State def. #7 Glenville State, 77-72

Box Score

WHEELING – Senior guard Zyon Dobbs enjoyed the game of his life and it took every bit of his efforts to help second-seeded Fairmont State eliminate seventh-seeded Glenville State, 77-72, in the quarterfinals of the annual Mountain East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament here Friday afternoon at WesBanco Arena.

Dobbs scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to help Fairmont State avenge a pair of regular-season losses to the talented Pioneers and advance to Saturday’s semifinals at 8:30 p.m. The win improved the Falcons to 23-8 on the season. FSU entered the tournament ranked fifth in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Rankings.

“I just felt like as a team we were struggling early to score,” said Dobbs, who scored 18 of his points and tallied six of his rebounds in the crucial second half for Fairmont. “They were playing Zay (FSU’s Isaiah Sanders) physical, they were on our shooters and I felt like they knew what we were going to do. The (driving) lanes were there so I said to myself I’m going to take them.

I also feel like I got some mismatches in the post so I took it there too.

“Briggs (Parris) also shot the ball well for us. He was a great spark for us when he came in. He kept us going.”

Dobbs and Parris combined for 21 of Fairmont’s 34 first-half points and were big reasons the Falcons were able to wipe out a late 10-point lead by the Pioneers and trail by just 36-34 at the break.

“The first time we played them I was out and didn’t play and the second time we played them I probably shot the ball the worst I shot it all year,” said Parris, who finished with a season-high 21 points, 11 of which came in the final 20 minutes. “Honestly, though, I didn’t even think about that. I don’t want to go home.

“I could tell early Zay wasn’t hitting his shot so I knew I needed to step up for this team. To be honest I think they were so intent on not letting Zay score that it opened things up for me.”

Sanders finally got on track in the second half. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the game’s final 10:29 to help Fairmont hold off Glenville. It was Sanders’ 24th straight game in double figures and it marked the 89th time in the last 90 games that the senior has achieved that feat.

The Falcons led by as many as 11 twice in the second half, the last of which occurred with 5:29 to play, but the Pioneers rallied to cut it to four in the waning seconds. GSU, however, was never able to make it a one possession game.

“They’re very good, very well-coached and very competitive,” FSU coach Tim Koenig. “I’m very proud of our guys, especially our physicality. I thought we brought it in the second half and did a much better job of getting on the glass. There was a big rebounding difference in the first half. We closed that in the second half and it played a big role in the outcome of the game.

“Now we get to move on. Any win in this tournament is incredible.”

Glenville, which finished its season at 17-13, got 20 points apiece from Jacquez Yow and Freddie Word. Word, who also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and dished out a game-high eight assists, was just two assists shy of posting his second triple-double of the season.

The Pioneers had 15 offensive rebounds in the game, but only 13 second-chance points. GSU missed a number of close put-backs in the loss, especially in the second half, which ended up costing the Pioneers.

“It is pretty frustrating to play that hard, battle, be physical and get a lot of offensive rebounds and just nothing goes down or goes your way because it’s just one of those nights,” Yow said. “We missed a lot of second chances, but we never stopped battling.”

The Pioneers shot just 35.8 percent from the field in the loss (24-of-67), including a dismal 6-of-30 from 3-point range (20 percent).

“The reality of it is when you shoot 35 and 20 you’re not going to win very many basketball games,” GSU coach Justin Caldwell said. “The fact that we had a chance, I thought, was a testament to how hard we played.”

Glenville also got 16 points from Jordan Turbo Smith, but he was just 1-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc.

The semifinal appearance will be the fifth straight for Fairmont State. The Falcons won the 2021 MEC Tournament.

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