By David Rogers. March 25, 2019. BOONE, NC — After losing in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament to eventual champion, Little Rock, one might expect Appalachian State’s women’s basketball Mountaineers to have a letdown.
COVER IMAGE: App State guard Pre Stanley did what she does best — and often — in scoring a career-high 28 points on the night. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
But not this team and not this year. Head coach Angel Elderkin explained to reporters after their thrilling, 83-71 win over Marshall at the Holmes Center Monday night — in front of one of the season’s largest crowds — that her team adopted a new mission: to win a post-season tournament title after earning an invitation to play in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
Arguably, Monday night’s tilt between Marshall and App State was as entertaining as any basketball game could be. Both played with relentless speed in attacking the basket and each side featured their five starting players in double figures (of points scored) by the end.
The difference-makers may well have been guard Pre Stanley’s career-high 28 points and center/forward Bayley Plummer’s 21 rebounds, 11 points, and two blocked shots.
Stanley was firing on all cylinders, hitting from long range, making acrobatic “fly-bys” to the hoop, and taking advantage of free throw opportunities. She shot 67% (10-of-15) from the field and 88% from the charity stripe (7-of-8).
For her part, Plummer met everyone’s expectations and nearly doubled her season average of more than 12 rebounds per game this season. Her 21 boards, a half dozen on the offensive end to extend possession and scoring opportunities, gave her four career games with at least 20 rebounds. They also propelled her into fourth place all-time in school history with 948, moving her past 1988-92 star Shannon Thomas. Conceivably within reach this, Plummer’s junior year, is the No. 3 all-time all-time rebounding mark of Muriel Higgenbotham (1978-82), who collected 969 rebounds during her career.
After the game, Marshall head coach Tony Kemper marveled at the App State team’s performance, in particular with a nod to the individual contributions of Stanley and Plummer. He said that his Marshall squad is a very different, much improved Thundering Herd than the one that lost to the Mountaineers in November (74-52), “…but so is App State,” he admitted.
After being dominated on their home court, this time the Thundering Herd battled back, even after being down by 15 late in the first half. They pared the deficit to just five with 25 seconds to go in the third quarter and trailed by just one point early in the final stanza.
But from there, Stanley delivered 13 of her game-high 28 points, while point guard Ashley Polacek drove the nail in Marshall’s coffin with a pair of 3-pointers and 11 points of here own in the final eight and a half minutes of play.
With the win, the Mountaineers advance to the WBI semifinals against Campbell University on Saturday, March 30th, 7:00 pm at the Holmes Convocation Center. The Camels advanced by defeating Tennessee Tech, 70-62, Monday evening at home in Buies Creek, NC.