Brock Netter, Staff Writer
SARDINIA — Saturday was not the cleanest of games for Fairfield, but the Lions still managed to find a way to win.
After scoring just two points in the third quarter, the Lions exploded for 17 fourth quarter points, led by Emma Fouch, to escape with the 42-39 victory over Minford.
“It’s really tough to win games when you don’t shoot very efficiently from the floor,” Fairfield coach Chad Hamilton said. “We were getting the shots we wanted, they just weren’t falling. But I knew they had to fall eventually and we were lucky enough to finally get some shots to fall in the fourth quarter.”
Minford’s ball spacing and movement gave Fairfield problems, and Kynedi Davis took complete advantage. The freshman forward took open shots with confidence and caressed nylon nearly every time.
She was 3-of-4 from distance in the opening frame, finishing with 11 points as Minford (4-12) held a 17-10 lead over the Lions.
The Falcons pushed the lead to 19-10, but hit a dry spell and Fairfield rallied behind six points from Braylynn Haines to end the half on a 13-2 run, capped by a triple from Faith Donley to lead 23-21 at halftime.
“We wanted to come out in a zone and speed Minford up a little bit, but it didn’t work out as well as we hoped because of how well they were shooting,” Hamilton said. “We switched to man-to-man, which worked out much better and I was reluctant to switch back down the stretch. But it forced some turnovers and turned the tide.”
Despite Fairfield going into halftime with all momentum, it didn’t sustain it. As a matter of fact, it went on a dry spell for 7:58 courtesy of Minford’s Ally Coriell.
Her 6-foot-4 frame in the post led to blocked shots, alerted shots and rebounds as Fairfield continued to search for answers.
“She alters everything within 10 feet of the basket,” Hamilton said. “She may not score a point, but she still impacts the game. And in our league, we don’t see anyone as tall as she is. She’s athletic, moves well, and rebounds very solidly.”
Meanwhile, Davis scored a pair of buckets, Bella Reffit added two free throws and Coriell split a pair to give the Falcons a 28-23 lead.
Emma Fouch got fouled with two seconds left, and nailed both free throws to end the quarter with the Falcons ahead 28-25. But all Fouch needed to see was the ball go in the basket to get her going.
“Offensively, that was probably the worst quarter I’ve ever coached in eight years,” Hamilton said. “I thought about switching defenses again, but it wasn’t a defensive problem since Minford only scored seven points.”
Fouch opened the fourth with a bucket plus the foul, and then scored the next nine straight to give the Lions a 33-30 lead. Yet, Minford had a counter as Livi Shonkwiler scored six straight points to tie the game 38-38.
Fouch swished a pair of free throws to make it a 42-39 game before Minford came back down the court and Shonkwiler banked home a triple to tie the game. But the shot was waved off as the Falcons called timeout just before the attempt.
That decision cost the Falcons as their game-tying attempt fell short to preserve the victory for the Lions.
“Emma caught fire in the fourth right when we needed a spark,” Hamilton said. “We played the worst third quarter in my eight years that I’ve been coaching here. But we changed to a three-quarter court pressure defense as well to generate some turnovers and that changed the outlook of the game.”
Fouch finished with 17 points to lead Fairfield, followed by eight points and eight rebounds from Bronner.
Davis ended with a game-high 20 points for Minford, while Shonkwiler added 10 points and three assists.
Fairfield returns to action on Monday against Manchester in SHAC action, while Minford travels to Wheelersburg for SOC II
Minford: 17-4-7-11 — 42
Fairfield: 10-13-2-17 — 39
Minford: 15-35 FG, 6-13 FT, 3-7 3pt., 27 rebounds (Thacker 10), 19 turnovers, 9 assists (Shonkwiler, Reffit 3). Scoring: Davis 20, Shonkwiler 10, Reffit 4, Thacker 4, Coriell 1.
Fairfield: 15-45 FG, 8-9 FT, 4-16 3pt., 25 rebounds (Bronner 8), 14 turnovers, 7 assists (Magee 3). Scoring: Fouch 17, Bronner 8, Magee 7, Haines 7, Donley 3.