“It’s kind of been the story of our year,” Virginia-Wise coach Jamie Cluesman said. “We dig ourselves a hole in the first half.”
The Cavaliers (6-7, 4-3) trailed Fairmont State 38-29 at halftime, but turned the game around in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Stanley.
The sophomore scored nine of her career-high 26 points in the third quarter to lead the Virginia-Wise offense.
The Cavs took the lead for good with 2:32 to play in the second half on a basket from Stanley. The basket put Virginia-Wise ahead 53-51. It was the first lead for the team since leading 1-0.
“We said at halftime that we had to step it up and I think we did,” said Stanley. “We eliminated turnovers, and we made our free throws and I think that really helped us.”
Stanley’s 26 points were not only her career-best, but also the most scored by a Virginia-Wise player this season.
The Cavaliers also set a season-best mark by scoring 29 points in the third quarter. The point production led to a 58-55 lead for Virginia-Wise after three quarters.
Stanley continued to dominate the inside game in the fourth quarter. She scored 11 points from under the basket in the period to help UVa-Wise outscore the Fighting Falcons by an 18-6 margin.
“I think my defense impacted my offense,” Stanley, who drew three charges in the game, said. “Getting those three charges really helped.”
Stanley’s career offensive night was complemented by a defensive move that the Cavalier players implemented in the second half.
Virginia-Wise went to a full-court pressure defense that was led by Cynita Webb and Janice Ladson.
“I’ve got to give credit to the players,” said Cluesman. “I did not tell them to get in the press whatsoever. I’ve told them to use the feel of the game.
“Really, the credit goes to Cynita and Janice. They’re the two that started it and their teammates followed. And it was very, very good for us.
“When they got up in that defense and slowed them down and put a little pressure on them, that’s what won the game.”
Webb had a solid night all-around for the Cavs with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Rachel Laskody and Sierra Kotchman led Fairmont State (5-8, 2-5) with 15 points apiece, while Kamrin Weimer had 11.
Thursday’s men’s game was dominated from the opening tip by nationally ranked Fairmont State.
The No. 24 Fighting Falcons (10-3, 7-0) kept their record perfect in MEC play with a 106-80 victory over Virginia-Wise (5-7, 3-4).
Cole VonHandorf led seven Fairmont State players with 19 points. Andrew Emrick scored 17; Vince Franklin added 14; Kenzie Melko finished with 13; Vonte Montgomery had a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists; and Jason Jolly and Troy Cantrell added 10 points each.
Virginia-Wise got 18 points from Michal Seals, 17 from Eric Okenchi, 14 from Cameron Whiteside and 12 from Chance Sheffey.