Appalachian State University women’s basketball kept itself in contention for a second-straight Southern Conference title with a 57-53 win over Samford on Saturday. The Mountaineers (23-4, 17-2 SoCon) used a stifling defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack to complete the
regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs (17-11, 12-7) for the second-straight season.
Both teams struggled offensively in the early going, combining for just four points through the first four minutes before the Bulldogs were able to snag a 4-3 lead on Paige Anderson’s jumper with 15:36 to go in the first half.
The teams would trade several buckets to knot the game at 7-7 before the Apps reeled off a 9-0 run, during which they half Samford scoreless for over five minutes, to grab a 16-7 lead with 9:39 left on the clock. Appalachian would hold a slim lead throughout the rest of the half as the Bulldogs were able to trim the deficit to just one point (23-22) with 1:51 remaining in the half before the Mountaineers took a 25-23 lead into the locker room.
Samford was able to tie the contest at 25-25 by scoring on its opening possession in the second half, but the Mountaineers answered with a four-straight points from Courtney Freeman to push its lead back to four points (29-25) with 18:49 left to play.
Appalachian State would cling to a slim lead during the opening five minutes of the half before widening the gap to 35-30 with 14:54 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs would claw their way back to tie the contest at 39-39 on Anderson’s jumper with just over 10 minutes left, but Raven Gary would answer for the Apps to make it 41-39 in favor of Appalachian State.
Katie Mallow’s jumper at the 7:41 mark pushed ASU’s lead back to three points (43-40), but Samford answered with a three-pointer from Hannah Dawson to tie the game up.
The Mountaineers led by just four points with 4:23 left to play when Anna Freeman swung momentum firmly back in Appalachian’s favor when she blocked a three-pointer, raced down the floor and converted a layup to make it 50-45 with 4:19 on the clock. Samford was able to convert a layup with 20.4 seconds remaining to close the gap to two points (53-51), but the Apps were able to convert on their free throws in the final seconds to hang on for the win.
Freeman led Appalachian State with 12 points while Sydnor fell just shy of a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Kelsey Sharkey chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds off the bench while Gary added nine.
The Bulldogs got a game-high 17 points from Anderson while Jazmine Powers finished with 15. ASU shot 36.4 percent (20-for-55) from the floor while Samford shot 37.5 percent (12-for-56). The Apps won the rebounding battle by a 45-31 margin and forced 15 turnovers in the contest. Both teams dished out 15 assists and the Mountaineers finished with five blocks.
Appalachian State wraps up the regular season at Chattanooga at 7 p.m. on Monday.
GAME NOTES: ASU forced 10 or more turnovers for the 94th-straight game... all 10 ASU players scored at least two points. Appalachian State finished with a 24-14 edge in points in the paint.... the Mountaineers are 49-10 in SoCon play since the start of the 2009-10 season... ASU is 60-11 all time when Freeman scores in double figures... the Mountaineers are now 49-20 in the months of January and February under head coach Darcie Vincent.
ASU 57, SAMFORD 53
Score by periods 1st 2nd Total
Appalachian State..... 25 32 57
Samford........................... 23 30 53
ASU: C. FREEMAN 7, A. FREEMAN 12 (5 REBOUNDS, 5 ASSISTS), WELDON 3. RAVEN 9, SYDNOR 10 (8 REBOUNDS), SHARKEY 7 (8 REBOUNDS), EDWARDS 2, MALLOW 5, WILLIAMS 5. FG: 21-36, 3FG: 2-5, FT: 13-17. 45 REBOUNDS, 19 TURNOVERS, 15 ASSISTS.
SAMFORD: BABINEAUX 3, DAWSON 8, POWERS 15 (6 REBOUNDS, 5 ASSISTS), ANDERSON 17, KETCHUM 5, REECE 5. FG: 20-55, 3FG: 5-23, FT: 8-15. 31 REBOUNDS, 15 TURNOVERS, 15 ASSISTS.
Photo Courtesy: Anna Freeman, ASU Athletics