By David Rogers. January 7, 2017. BOONE, NC — It’s hard to say that the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock snuck up on Appalachian State’s women’s basketball game on Saturday at the Holmes Center. The visitors’ leading scorers coming into the game came right at the Mountaineers in leading Little Rock to a convincing, 77-69 win.
Perhaps it was the low levels of energy coming from the sparse crowd or maybe the singing of the National Anthem was less than inspiring, but Saturday’s Mountaineers were not the same high energy team that put the big hurt on the last two visitors to the High Country’s biggest basketball stage.
After dismantling defending Big South Conference champion UNC-Asheville (81-51) and Sun Belt rival Arkansas State (76-50), Saturday’s encounter with Little Rock was a promising opportunity for the Lady Mountaineers to put their stamp on the 2016-17 season and defy the pre-season coaches’ poll that picked A-LR to finish second (behind Troy) in the Sun Belt and figured App State for the 8th spot in the end-of-season standings.
Instead, the App State women didn’t find the same level of energy until their backs were against the wall in the 4th quarter. Down by 10 (41-31) at the end of the first half, the Mountaineers couldn’t circle their wagons fast enough in watching the Trojans go on a 14-4 run to start the third period. Little Rock finished the third quarter with a daunting, 18-point advantage, 63-45.
To their credit, the Mountaineers didn’t quit in the 4th quarter and whittled the deficit to single digits by game’s end, but by then it was too little, too late.
Little Rock’s Pre-Season All-Sun Belt Conference seniors Kaitlyn Pratt (a forward) and Sharde’ Collins (guard) lived up to their billing in Saturday’s win over Appalachian. Pratt notched a double-double in scoring a game-high 24 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Collins poured in 21 points. The senior pair received some dagger help from freshman guard Emily Lytle, who drilled 3-of-4 3-point attempts.
Appalachian State boasted four players to score in double digits, but it simply wasn’t enough. Senior Bria Carter had another strong performance in dropping 15 points while pulling down 5 rebounds. Redshirt sophomore guard Q. Murray posted a team-high 16 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from behind the 3-point arc. Junior guard Madi Story added 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. And senior guard Joi Jones was responsible for 11 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Before their next Holmes Center appearance on January 26 vs. Texas State (7:00 pm tipoff), the Lady Mountaineer will look to get back on track while on the road vs. Coastal Carolina (Jan. 14, 2:00 pm), Georgia State (Jan. 19, 7:00 pm), and Georgia Southern (Jan. 21, 7:00 pm).
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
SLIDESHOW By Bill Barbour for Blowing Rock News