Mountaineers school Bobcats, 77-56

Mountaineers school Bobcats, 77-56
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By David Rogers. February 7, 2019. BOONE, NC — Just when you think Bayley Plummer has reached the pinnacle of no-look basketball passes, she one-ups herself. That was the case on Thursday for “Education Day” at the Holmes Convocation Center, where the 6-4 women’s basketball standout put an exclamation point on Appalachian State’s thorough dismantling of visiting Texas State, 77-56.

COVER IMAGE: App State center/forward Bayley Plummer (42) gets rebound and puts it back up. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

By the time she is finished in the App State program, the junior power forward from Thomasville, NC will likely have worked her way up the career-high leaderboard in several statistical categories — at the very least in the number of points scored per game, number of blocked shots, and probably even school and Sun Belt Conference records in rebounding.

They probably don’t keep statistics, however, in fan delight. And that is exactly what Plummer delivered with 5:57 to go in the 4th quarter. At the tailend of a fast break after a Bobcat turnover, Plummer drew the attention of three Texas State defenders in driving down the right side of the lane, her eyes fixed on the basket ahead. And then with her left hand at neck-high, she flicked a no-look pass across her body to teammate and sophomore guard Tiera Wilson standing some 20-feet away on the right perimeter.

LaPresh Stanley goes for two…

Wilson, with plenty of space in front of her, gathered the ball in her hands as she stood behind the three-point arc. In one swift motion she calmly launched a high, arching rocket that would sear the net cleanly for a resounding bucket.

With 1:23 left in the third quarter, the Mountaineers led by 22 points and it looked like this game would be an old fashioned Texas stampede, but with the Texans as the victims. Then, in the final seconds of that period, the Bobcats’ senior forward Emanuel Zandra plucked a steal of a Mountaineer ball. The post-turnover play found Zandra’s teammate on the other end, freshman guard Kennedy Taylor, who made a three-pointer of her own with mere seconds to go.

The quarter ended with Bobcat momentum and Texas State parlayed that spark of energy into whittling down the App State lead to just 12 points. As the final stanza opened, the visitors capitalized on Mountaineer turnovers and defensive lapses — and missed shots — with a pull-up jumper by junior guard Bailey Holle, a three-pointer by freshman forward Da’Nasia Hood, and finally a layup at the hands of Hood. Suddenly the Bobcats were within a dozen, had the Mountaineers in seeming disarray, and there was still a full 8:17 left on the clock.

Nicola Mathews came off the bench for the Mountaineers with significant minutes and contributions.

But Plummer, Wilson & Co. had other ideas — and a 30-second timeout called by the Mountaineers’ head coach Angel Elderkin did the trick. First, Plummer took it to the hoop, powering her way to the basket. On the other end, senior guard Madi Story secured a rebound and the Mountaineers quickly got the ball down court to Wilson, who drained another of her game-high four, 3-pointers (on 4-of-5 attempts).

Just like that, the Mountaineer lead was back to 17 and when Plummer crafted her no-look assist to Wilson’s 3-pointer at the 5:57 mark, for App State there was no looking back.

However much the Plummer-to-Wilson combination brought thrills to the estimated 500 cheering and screaming-with-delight students from a variety of area elementary and middle schools in the latter segments of the game, much of the early damage was done by Story and sophomore guard LaPresh “Pre” Stanley. They combined to pester one of the Sun Belt’s most prolific scorers, the Bobcats’ senior guard Toshua Leavitt. The Mountaineer duo’s disruption effectively took Leavitt out of the game.

Leavitt’s frustration bubbled over late in the third period when she picked up her 4th foul of the game, then compounded the infraction by saying something one of the referees didn’t like. She was promptly awarded a technical, her fifth foul of the game and her services were lost to the Bobcats for the rest of the day.

The many students in the audience participate in “Y-M-C-A” during a timeout.

Leavitt came into the game with the fourth-highest scoring average in the Sun Belt at 16.5 and at the top of the leaderboard in 3-point field goals made (28 in nine conference games, a 3.1 average). At 45%, she was fifth in the league in the number of successful “threes” vs. attempts.

Story, Stanley and the rest of the Mountaineer defense didn’t do her any favors. In Thursday’s encounter, Leavitt only tallied 10 points, all of them in the first quarter before missing her final 13 shots before exiting with the technical. She only made 4 of 11 (19%) total shots taken and went 2-for-11 (18%) from long range, behind the arc.

App State head coach Angel Elderkin casts a critical eye on the court action…

Afterward, Elderkin explained to reporters that one of the team’s primary goals in preparing for a game is to neutralize an opponent’s leading scorer or playmaker. For Texas State, they knew that Leavitt was that player, so Stanley and Story spent a lot of practice time guarding a 6-0 (taller than Leavitt) male player in various drills and scrimmages. Elderkin noted to reporters that they call that opposing playmaker “Batman” and that the goal is thwart the masked crusader.

As for Plummer, she smiled broadly in telling Blowing Rock News that the no-look passes are a risk, “…and sometimes it doesn’t work…,” but then shared that her teammates are usually where they are expected to be.

Next up for the App State women is an encounter with Texas-Arlington, currently in second place with a 9-2 conference record (17-5 overall), just a half-game behind league-leading Little Rock (9-1, 13-8). The Mavericks got by Coastal Carolina, 67-64, in Thursday action in Conway, SC, before heading north to Boone.

SCORING LEADERS

Texas State

  • Kennedy Taylor — 11 points, 6 assists, 2 steals
  • Avionne Alexander — 10 points
  • Toshua Leavitt — 10 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
  • Da’Nasia Hood — 6 points
  • Zandra Emanuel — 6 rebounds (3 offensive)

Appalachian State

  • Madi Story — 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Bayley Plummer — 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Lainey Gosnell — 15 points, 5 rebounds
  • Tierra Wilson — 12 points, 1 steal
  • Pre Stanley — 11 points, 3 steals
  • Nicola Mathews — 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
  • Ashley Polacek — 3 steals, 3 points, 2 rebounds

TALKING POINTS

  • For the game, App State shot 50% (8-of-16) from behind the 3-point arc, including by Wilson (4), Gosnell (2), and one each by Story and Polacek
  • Led by Plummer, the Mountaineers dominated inside the paint, with a 28-16 advantage in points scored and a 42-32 gap in rebounding
  • App State is now 5-5 all-time against Texas State.
  • The Mountaineers are 11-0 when holding their opponents to fewer than 70 points.
  • Appalachian is 8-2 when it doesn’t allow a 20-point scorer.
  • Plummer is now sixth all-time in school history with 767 rebounds, passing Jamie Gagliano (757;1997-01) and Natasha Lettsome (758;1997-01)
  • Plummer also became one of eight players in school history to record at least 100 career blocks. She is tied for seventh in the record books with Jessica Jank (101;2001-05)
  • The Thomasville, N.C. native is also one of four players in school history with Valorie Whiteside, Anna Freeman, and Shannon Thomas to record at least 500 points, 700 rebounds and 100 blocks in their career
  • App State is 5-2 over its last seven games. 

THURSDAY’S SUN BELT CONFERENCE SCORES

  • Appalachian State 77, Texas State 56
  • Texas Arlington 67, Coastal Carolina 64
  • Georgia Southern 79, Louisiana 71
  • Little Rock 76, Troy 72
  • Georgia State 68, Louisiana-Monroe 46
  • Arkansas State 69, South Alabama 58

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