By David Rogers. January 11, 2018. BOONE, NC — Four players in double figures, yet another double-double for sophomore forward Bayley Plummer, and better than 50% shooting from everywhere on the court, including from behind the 3-point arc…what’s not to like for head coach Angel Elderkin after Appalachian State women’s basketball dominated Georgia State on Thursday at the Holmes Convocation Center, 77-62, in front of paid attendance of just 282.
COVER IMAGE: Armani Hampton charges into the lane from along the baseline. All images by Bill Barbour for Blowing Rock News.
With two straight Sun Belt wins, Appalachian State women’s basketball looks to make it a trifecta. So far in this still young 2017-18 season, they are at least beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. After disposing of Louisiana-Monroe (1-3 in Sun Belt, 4-11 overall) last Saturday on the Warhawks’ home court, 71-67, the Mountaineers built on momentum established late in the second quarter when they took a 5-point, 36-31 lead into halftime.
On Saturday, the Appalachian women take on Georgia Southern, in the first of the year’s rivalry games. If the Mountaineers stay true to form they will beat the Eagles, who are tied with Georgia State for last place (11th/12th) in the Sun Belt Conference standings with an identical 0-5 record. Louisiana-Monroe is in 10th at 1-3, just behind App State at 2-3.
While freshman guard sensation Tierra Wilson (5-8, Winston-Salem, R J Reynolds HS) poured in a game-high 22 points against the Panthers — proving that her season high of 27 against Louisiana-Monroe was not a fluke — one of the best stories of the night is the continued development of power forward Bayley Plummer. Her 12 rebounds and 14 points performance gave her a seventh double-double of the year, tying her with South Alabama’s big girl in the middle, Chyna Ellis, a senior out of Cordova, Tennessee. Through Thursday night’s games, Plummer’s 12.6 rebounds per game ranked sixth, nationally, in Division I women’s basketball for Rebounds Per Game and the top-ranked sophomore nationally for Total Rebounds and Rebounds Per Game, according to the NCAA website.
Just a sophomore, what has really caught the eye of App State fans is her “vision” of the court and innate ability to distribute the ball, usually after receiving the ball inside and delivering it to an open teammate on the outside. That may not have translated into an inordinate number of assists this season, because that result is also dependent on her teammates shooting the ball and making it, or possibly passing around the perimeter to another player with a better shot opportunity.
Afterwards, Elderkin was beaming at her team’s performance, certainly acknowledging Plummer’s continuing development toward being a complete basketball player, as well as dishing out high praise for Wilson’s abilities on offense.
Early in the 2017-18 campaign, Elderkin lost a great deal of senior leadership and production in her system of play with injuries to leading scorer and senior guard Madi Story (Maiden, NC/Bandys), as well as to senior guard/forward Katelyn Doub (Asheboro, NC/Southwestern Randolph HS). Add to that the loss due to injury of another veteran, redshirt sophomore Kaila Craven (Asheboro, NC/Southwestern Randolph), and you begin to understand the urgency with which Elderkin and her staff have had to throw newly-minted freshman recruits into starting roles.
In whatever profession, it takes time to get new staff members up to speed in not just the skills required to do the job, but also the culture and mindset of the organization. If Thursday’s team performance is any indication, those freshmen and sophomores now dominating the Mountaineer roster are starting to gel.
Of the four players in double figures against the Panthers, Plummer and guard Nicola Mathews (13 points, Adelaide, Australia/Cabra Dominican) are sophomores, while Wilson and LaPresha Stanley (10 points, 6 rebounds, Rockledge, FL) are freshmen. But the youth brigade doesn’t stop there for the Mountaineers. Other big contributors against Georgia State include sophomore Armani Hampton (9 points, 7 rebounds, Winston-Salem, NC/Atkins) and freshman Maya Calder (5 points, 7 rebounds, Landover, MD/National Christian Academy).
Kiera Henry recorded a team-high 17 points for Georgia State, while K.K. Williams pulled down four rebouinds to lead the Panthers.
The tipoff for Saturday’s App State matchup against Georgia Southern is slated for 1:00 pm at the Holmes Center.