Morgan, Fairmont Rally to Victory

WHEELING – You had to figure a guy named Chase Morgan would be money.

Morgan, held scoreless in limited action in the first half Wednesday night, hit four 3-pointers and scored 15 points in the second half as he led Fairmont State back from a 13-point deficit to an 88-81 victory against Wheeling Jesuit at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.

”He hit some deep 3s,” Cardinals coach Danny Sancomb said. ”You make 25, 26-foot shots, it’s tough to guard that.”

Morgan, a Bluefield State transfer who led all Division II freshmen in scoring a year ago, played six minutes and missed both shots he took in the first half. He was 5 of 8 from the field in the second, mirroring a team-wide effort of better shooting that saw the Falcons make 8 of 10 3-point field goals down the stretch.

”We feed off of his energy off the bench,” Fairmont State coach Jerrod Calhoun said. ”That’s kind of a role that he’s accepted and really buys into coming off the bench to be an offensive threat. He was just making shots.”

In the first half, it was just the opposite. The Falcons, who three days earlier nearly knocked off Division I Kent State, hit 1 of 6 3-point shots in the face of WJU’s zone defense.

”Losing a game like that (to Kent State), mentally you’re still a little fatigued, you’re a little bit drained,” Calhoun said. ”I thought we had heavy legs early.”

Wheeling Jesuit (3-5 overall, 1-4 West Virginia Conference) took advantage. The Cardinals led by 13 at halftime, having shot 58 percent from the floor and 55 percent (6 of 11 from beyond the line).

Leading that charge was freshman Justin Fritts, who scored all 15 of his points in the game’s first 20 minutes. Ben Siefert and Joe Prati added 10 and 12, each.

But the Falcons (6-3, 4-1) rattled off nine of the first 12 points of the second half and took their first lead in 28 minutes at the 10:33 mark.

With 1:22 left, they led by seven, which wound up being the game’s final margin.

”I just think they upped their pressure in the second half and we just didn’t do a good job adjusting to it,” Sancomb said. ”I thought we didn’t execute in the halfcourt offense the way we needed to.

”We knew what they were going to do and we did a good job in the first half. They started switching all screens and we didn’t exploit the mismatches and our spacing was a bit off. We’ll watch it and we’ll get better from it.”

Siefert, Recardo Gaddy and Prati each finished with 18 points for the Cardinals, with Siefert nearly missing a triple double with 13 rebounds and nine assists.

Issac Thornton matched Morgan with 18 points for Fairmont state. Brendan Cooper had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Isaah Hill and Malik Stith each added 13 points.