By David Rogers. March 30, 2019. BOONE, NC — Rarefied air pumped through the air conditioning ducts at the Holmes Center, Saturday night. An already highly charged atmosphere was electrified even more with host Appalachian State’s semifinal win over Campbell, 70-57, in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
COVER IMAGE: After fighting for an offensive rebound, App State center/forward Bayley Plummer ducks under the basket for a reverse layup to help put the WBI semifinal game away vs. Campbell. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
SLIDESHOW below story.
It was only fitting that with some 24 seconds left to play and the Mountaineers ahead by the final margin that head coach Angel Elderkin had her starting five take a ceremonial bow to a thunderous ovation as they exited the floor.
All five Mountaineer starters played at least 32 minutes, with guards Madi Story and Pre Stanley barely leaving the court. Four of the five starters finished in double figures in points scored. Besides Story’s game-high 19 and Bayley Plummer’s 14, Stanley contributed 15 points and point guard Ashley Polacek added 10, while forward Lainey Gosnell wasn’t far behind with eight points to complement seven rebounds.
Plummer, the 6-4 junior center/forward posted her ninth double-double of the season in collecting 20 rebounds to go with the 14 points scored. With yet another dominating inside the paint performance, the Thomasville, NC (East Davidson HS) native surpassed Valerie Whiteside’s 34-year-old single season record of 435 rebounds set in 1984-85. Plummer now has 441 boards for the 2018-19 season, with one more game to play.
Appalachian State will host the WBI championship game Wednesday night (tipoff at 6:30 pm) at the Holmes Center, facing the other WBI semifinal winner, North Texas. Nicknamed “the Mean Green” and a member of Conference-USA, North Texas pulled out a narrow, 56-53 win over North Alabama Friday night in Denton, TX to earn a trip to the High Country for the WBI post-season finale.
No quit in the Fighting Camels
First impressions can be deceiving. Although the Mountaineers led 38-33 at halftime, the 5-point advantage was a disappointment to most of the almost 1,300 fans privileged to watch the game. App State opened the first quarter on a 15-6 run and it looked like the start of a runaway victory over a mismatched opponent.
But the Fighting Camels would not go meekly into the night. They lived up to their mascot’s name by battling back in the second quarter to even the score, then take the lead at 27-25 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the half.
Turnovers by the Mountaineers, as well as missed layups and free throws during the second quarter contributed to the Campbell rally, although the Fighting Camels got strong contributions from the team’s quartet of leading scorers on the year, ShyAnne Tuelle, Lauren Carter, Tara Bolden, and Hayley Barber, who finished the game with, 9, 12, 10, and 12 points, respectively.
Each time the Mountaineers appeared to be pulling away, expanding their lead by as many as eight points in the third quarter, Campbell kept whittling the lead back down to manageable and matched App State’s uptempo attack. But where Plummer had some problems in getting shots to fall consistently early in the game, in the 4th quarter she became dominant inside the paint.
Both Story and Plummer seemed to put the Mountaineers on their proverbial backs in the 4th period, but the no-looking-back moment came a little past midway through the final stanza when Plummer fought for an offensive rebound, ducked under the basket and dropped in a reverse layup. The appreciative crowd roared, sensing that victory was near at hand.
Of three Sun Belt entries among the 16 teams that filled the WBI bracket at its post-season start on March 20th, Appalachian State is the lone Sun Belt survivor. Both Coastal Carolina and Georgia State fell to first round opponents, with the Chanticleers dropping a 58-54 decision to Campbell and the Panthers falling to North Alabama, 64-57.
In addition to its semifinal win over North Alabama, North Texas handily defeated the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the first round, 56-42, then overcame a tight battle to win against Utah State, 56-54.
SLIDESHOW by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
KEY INDIVIDUAL STATS
- Bayley Plummer, APP — 14 points, 20 rebounds, 4 blocked shots
- Madi Story, APP — 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
- Pre Stanley, APP — 15 points, 6 rebounds
- Ashley Polacek, APP — 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
- Lainey Gosnell, APP — 8 points, 7 rebounds
- Lauren Carter, CAM — 12 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals
- Hayley Barber, CAM — 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- Taya Bolden, CAM — 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal
- ShyAnne Tuelle, CAM — 9 points, 1 steal
KEY TEAM STATS
- Field Goal% — CAM 34%, APP 48%
- Field Goals — CAM 25-74, APP 28-58
- 3-point FG% — CAM 21%, APP 14%
- 3-point FGs — CAM 3-14, APP 1-7
- Free Throw % — CAM 80%, APP 68%
- Free Throws — CAM 4-5, APP 13-19
- Turnovers — CAM 6, APP 14
- Points off Turnovers — CAM 12, APP 10
- Total Rebounds — CAM 35, APP 49
- Defensive Rebounds — CAM 22, APP 37
- Offensive Rebounds — CAM 13, APP 12
- 2nd Chance Points — CAM 6, APP 12
- Bench Points — CAM 22, APP 4
- Points in the Paint — CAM 36, APP 44
- Fast Break Points — CAM 6, APP 2
- Blocks — CAM 5, APP 4
- Steals — CAM 9, APP 4
- Assists — CAM 5, APP 9
- Times Tied — 4
- Time Tied — 2:47
- Lead Change — 2
- Lead Time — CAM 1:04, APP, 36:09