By David Rogers. February 22, 2020. STATESBORO, GA — A 6-0 run to knot the score at 57-57 in the final period proved not enough for Appalachian State women’s basketball on Saturday. Host Georgia Southern took advantage of Mountaineer ball-handling miscues and missed shots down the stretch to finish with a 78-70 win on the Eagles’ Senior Night.
Trailing 49-47 at the end of the third quarter, the Eagles opened the final period on an 8-2 run to take a 57-51 lead, but App State stormed back in less than two minutes with strong inside play, punctuated by a “coming from nowhere” layup by Armanti Hampton to collect an errant shot and putback. Although Hampton’s hustle seened to energize the Mountaineers to a 57-57 tie with 5:02 left to play, the High Country visitors could not a solid offensive performance by GSU’s freshman guard Jaiden Hamilton in the game’s closing minutes.
Heading into the closing tilts of the regular season, both teams needed a win to insure a spot in the conference tournament. With the win, the Eagles are now locked in a three-way tie for 7th place in the Sun Belt Conference standings with App State and Arkansas State, which lost to Troy, 79-64, on Saturday on the Trojans’ home court. All three of the teams are 6-9 in SBC play and 9-17 overall.
Only the top 10 teams are invited to the Sun Belt tournament, which starts on Tuesday, March 10. Seeded according to their final place in the conference standings, the #7 seed will play the #6 seed (currently South Alabama), the #8 seed plays the #5 seed (currently Louisiana), and the #9 seed faces the #4 seed (currently Little Rock). Tenth place Georgia State also has to be considered in the logjam for the tournament seeding, at 5-10.
Georgia Southern junior guard Tatum Barber scored a team-high 18 points for the Eagles, including 10 in the pivotal second half.
Senior guard Pre Stanley led the way for the Mountaineers with a game-high 23 points. Fellow senior point guard Ashley Polacek added 13, while sophomore guard Brooke Bigott also made it to double figures with 10.
While App State head coach Angel Elderkin deployed 10 players in this game, she did not go particularly deep in her roster for very long. The five Mountaineer starters, Stanley, Bigott, Polacek, along with forwards Lainey Gosnell and Bayley Plummer were on the floor the vast majority of the minutes and accounted for all but 13 of the team’s 68 total points.
Since it was Senior Night for Georgia Southern, head coach Anita Howard featured an all-senior starting lineup, but quickly inserted grad transfer MacDonald, as well as juniors Barber and 6-1 center/forward Sarah Moore.
As one of the more athletic taller players on the Eagles’ roster, Moore’s presence was important to help contain the Mountaineers’ power forward/center Plummer, who was coming off one of her best all-around performances Thursday night against Georgia State. The senior pulled down 24 rebounds against the Panthers in Atlanta, while pouring in 16 points during App State’s 64-59 overtime win.
On this afternoon, however, Moore and Plummer effectively cancelled each other out, Plummer held to just 7 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals to go with an assist and a blocked shot in 33 minutes of court time. Moore, meanwhile, scored just 6 points and 3 rebounds in 28 minutes on the floor.
App State closes out its regular-season home schedule next week in the Holmes Center with a Thursday matchup against the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana, then a Saturday afternoon “Senior Day” contest against Louisiana-Monroe.
GAME STATISTICAL LEADERS
- APP – Pre Stanley: 23 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
- APP – Ashley Polacek: 13 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 4 steals
- APP – Bayley Plummer: 7 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 blocked shot, 2 steals
- APP – Brooke Bigott: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
- APP – Lainey Gosnell: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocked shots, 1 steal
- GSU – Tatum Barber: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
- GSU – Alexis Brown: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
- GSU – Amira Atwater: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists
- GSU – Nikki McDonald: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 blocked shot, 4 steals
- GSU – Jaiden Hamilton: 8 points
SUN BELT SCORES FROM SATURDAY
- Louisiana 62, @Louisiana-Monroe 49
- @Georgia Southern 78, Appalachian State 70
- Coastal Carolina 66, @Georgia State 50
- Little Rock 69, @South Alabama 58
- @Troy 79, Arkansas State 64
- @Texas Arlington 69, Texas State 49
SUN BELT STANDINGS (Conference, Overall)
- T1 Coastal Carolina (13-2, 23-3)
- T1 Troy (13-2, 22-4)
- 3 Texas Arlington (10-4, 16-10)
- 4 Little Rock (9-6, 11-15)
- 5 Louisiana (8-6, 15-10)
- 6 South Alabama (8-7, 13-14)
- T7 Appalachian State (6-9, 9-17)
- T7 Georgia Southern (6-9, 9-17)
- T7 Arkansas State (6-9, 9-17)
- 10 Georgia State (5-10, 8-18)
- 11 Texas State (3-11, 10-13)
- 12 Louisiana-Monroe (1-13, 3-22)