By Chase Colliton of AppStateSports. January 2, 2020. MOBILE, AL – Appalachian State women’s basketball fell to South Alabama (USA), 81-66, in the Sun Belt opener on Thursday evening in the Mitchell Center. App State falls to 3-9 (0-1 SBC) while the Jaguars move to 6-7 (1-0 SBC).
Pre Stanley (Rockledge, Fla.) bounced back from a nine-point performance at UNCG with a team-high 19 points on five buckets and a 9-of-11 showing from the charity stripe. Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) (12 points) and Ashley Polacek (Ottawa, Canada/UCF) (11 points) scored 20 of their combined 23 points in the second half. Polacek also added five boards and three assists.
Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) posted her 25th-career game with 15 boards, which was a game-best on top of three blocks and five points. She helped limit Antoinette Lewis to just two points on 1-of-4 shooting and four rebounds. The Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year came in averaging a double-double of 13.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Nicola Mathews (Adelaide, Australia/College of Central Florida) had her best performance of the season with 10 points off the bench, shooting 4-of-5 from the field with three helpers.
Trailing by as much as 18, 44-26, in the third quarter, the offense hit seven of its next 10 shots to slice the gap to seven. Mathews started the surge late with back-to-back buckets before four Mountaineers hit five shots capped off by a trifecta from Gosnell to make the score 61-54 with 8:49 left in the game.
Just when momentum started to shift towards the Black and Gold, the Apps’ offense went cold the rest of the way as they hit only three shots. USA capitalized by scoring seven straight points to push the lead back to double-digits and pulled away for the win.
App State’s offense struggled in the first 15 minutes of the game. South Alabama jumped out to a 10-4 lead before consecutive treys by Brooke Bigott (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) and Michaela Porter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Obama Academy/Cincinnati) tied the game up. The hosts answered with an 11-2 run over the last 3:37 of the first to take a 21-12 advantage.
After a 4:18 scoring drought led South Alabama holding a 29-16 edge, baskets by Plummer and Mathews dwindled the deficit to single digits, 29-20. The Jags stretched their lead to 37-24 at the end of the first half after trading buckets with the Apps.
The Mountaineers were able to corral 17 offensive rebounds, which is the second most in a game this season, but scored only nine second-chance points to the Jags’ 17. App also shot a season-high 81 percent (17-21) from the charity stripe. Eighteen miscues by App led to 20 points for South Alabama, and it also hit 10 3-pointers.
App will look for an even weekend on Saturday against Troy at 3 p.m. (ET).