Mountaineer women stare down pesky Tusculum, 78-58, in only pre-season exhibition

Mountaineer women stare down pesky Tusculum, 78-58, in only pre-season exhibition
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Sophomore guard Nicola Mathews (Adelaide, Australia) starts a Mountaineer break up the court after pulling down a rebound. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

By David Rogers. October 31, 2017. BOONE, NC — It was Fright Night at the Holmes Convocation Center Tuesday night, but the Appalachian State women’s basketball team overcame their early Halloween Haunts to win the team’s only pre-season exhibition, a 78-58 thumping of NCAA Division II contender Tusculum College (Greenville, TN).

COVER IMAGE: LaPresha Stanley looks to pass. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Tusculum’s Pioneers featured a pressure defense that confused the Mountaineers early in the contest.  The visitors led App State by double digits, 22-12 by the end of the first quarter.

This is a “new look” Mountaineer team embarking on their 2017 quest for a Sun Belt Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. It is a roster featuring eight newcomers, and now including student athletes from four U.S. states (NC, MD, GA, FL) and three countries (Spain, Canada, and Australia).

Freshman power forward Maya Calder (Landover, MD) goes up for two in the first half. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

After falling behind by 11 points late in the first period, the young Mountaineers (five freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and two seniors) rallied in the second to make a game of it. Outscoring the Pioneers 26-19 in Q2, they narrowed the deficit to just 41-38 by intermission.

Appalachian head coach Angel Elderkin was beaming in facing reporters afterwards, explaining that they had yet to put in an offense when challenged by a full court pressing defense.  She added that at halftime they pulled out a whiteboard in the locker room and explained to her charges what they had to do to break the press.

The Mountaineers proved to be quick learners. While they had taken their first lead, 37-36, with 1:12 left in the first half, by the end of the third period they had retaken the lead and would not relinquish it.

Especially after losing star senior guard Madi Story late in the first half, the full team chemistry the Mountaineers found by game’s end turned the nailbiter of a beginning into a thrilling finish for the estimated 150 fans wanting to get an early look at the new roster.

Sophomore center Bayley Plummer powers inside for a basket in the first half. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

Sophomore center Bayley Plummer pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with game-highs in assists (5) and blocked shots (4), while contributing 7 points in 30 minutes of court time.

A trio of newcomers provided the lion’s share of Mountaineer scoring: Tierra Wilson (21 points), LaPresha Stanley (18) and Maya Calder (13).  Calder recorded a double-double, also pulling down 11 rebounds.

Appalachian State’s early season schedule will be a challenging one, opening with Atlantic Coast Conference contender Georgia Tech at the Holmes Center on Friday, November 10th (7:00 pm), travelling to Radford on Nov. 12, then returning home for two games vs. East Tennessee State (Nov. 15, 6:00 pm) and Davidson (Nov. 19, 2:00 pm).

 

SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

 

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