By David Rogers. February 9, 2019. BOONE NC — With redshirt senior guard Madi Story scoring the last six points of the third quarter, Appalachian State clawed its way back from a 10-point first half deficit to within two points of Texas Arlington on Saturday at the Holmes Center, but the momentum quickly dissipated.
COVER IMAGE: Appalachian State point guard Ashley Polacek takes measure of Texas-Arlington defenders as she eyes the basket. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
The Mavericks’ star freshman guard Claire Chastain and redshirt senior guard Cierra Johnson combined for 11 and 9 points, respectively, in the second half to overcome the Mountaineer rally in the third period.
Story finished the the game with a team-high 18 points for App State, but the real story in the Mountaineers’ threat to disrupt the Mavericks’ dominant series history was the inside play of power forward Bayley Plummer. The Mavericks now own a 10-0 record against Appalachian State, but the five most recent games have been tighter, including the Mountaineers’ taking the Mavericks to double overtime in Arlington, TX on January 10th before eventually succumbing, 99-94.
UTA’s roster features seven student athletes who are 6-1 or taller, five of whom saw court time on Saturday against the Mountaineers. App State has only two 6-1 or taller that see meaningful playing time, Plummer at 6-4 and Lainey Gosnell at 6-1, with sophomore power forward Maya Calder stretching to 6-0 even.
On this day, Plummer took the “Pink Day” tagline to heart: “Fight” for breast cancer awareness, as she fought through the tall Mavericks five to record her sixth double-double of the season with a game-high 17 rebounds to go with 14 points. The junior from Thomasville, NC leads the Sun Belt in rebounding with 240, an 11.4 per game average. She is first in defensive rebounds with 174 and third in the conference in offensive boards, with 66. She also makes the leaderboard in blocked shots, fourth on the list with 27.
Afterward, UTA head coach Krista Gerlich admitted that she felt a sense of relief in escaping the Holmes Center with a win, especially after the Mountaineers pushed her charges to double-overtime on the Mavericks home court in early January.
“In the locker room,” Gerlich said, “I told our players that we stole one here and that we can never look past App State to any other opponent. We may very well have to face the Mountaineers again this year, in the Sun Belt Conference tournament next month…App State is a very well coached team with a lot of weapons.”
Now 10-2 in Sun Belt conference play and 18-5 overall , UTA goes back home to host first place Little Rock (10-1, 14-8) on Thursday and Arkansas State (4-7, 9-13) on Saturday.
With the loss, Appalachian State (6-5, 12-10) drops into a tie with South Alabama (6-5, 17-5) for fifth place and will embark on a grueling 3-game road trip. Next Saturday they will be at Coastal Carolina (4-7, 12-10), then will go to the Peach State to face Georgia State (7-4, 13-9) in Atlanta on Feb. 21st before heading to Statesboro to challenge last place, but always dangerous Georgia Southern (2-9, 7-15).
- Cierra Johnson — game-high 19 points, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line, 2 blocks, 1 steal
- Claire Chastain — 17 points, team-high 6 rebounds, 1 block
- Katie Ferrell — 3 assists, 2 steals, 6 points, 2 blocks
- Lauren McGowen — 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 points
- Bayley Plummer — game-high 17 rebounds, 14 points, 1 steal
- Madi Story — 18 points, 2 assists, 1 steal
- Maya Calder — 6 rebounds, 7 points, 1 steal
- Lainey Gosnell — 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal
- Ashley Polacek — 6 assists, 5 points