Strong performances by Chakeitha Weldon and Anna Freeman powered Appalachian State University women’s basketball to a 61-43 victory over Southern Conference rival Western Carolina in the quarterfinals of the 2012 SoCon Basketball
tournament on Saturday. The Mountaineers (24-5, 17-3 SoCon) raced out to an early double-digit lead and held off a rally by the Catamounts (14-17, 8-12) late in the first half to cruise into the semifinals on Sunday.
Appalachian State, which led by as many as 19 points (29-10) late in the first half, nearly saw its lead erased as Western Carolina reeled off a 15-0 run over the final five minutes of the half to cut the deficit to just four points (29-25) heading into the break.
It was as close as the Catamounts would get as the Apps locked things down in the second half, holding WCU without a point for the first seven and a half minutes of the period to build a 39-25 lead.
After pushing its lead to as many as 18 points (47-29) with just over nine minutes to go, the Mountaineers would see the Catamounts make one last desperate rally to cut the decifit to 11 points (49-38) at the 7:03 mark. Appalachian State put its foot on the gas pedal and never let up after that, reeling off a 12-0 run that put the game out of reach and extended the lead to 23 points (61-38) before Western scored the final five to make it an 18-point victory for ASU.
Freeman led all players with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Weldon finished with 16 points and a game-high six steals. Courtney Freeman scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting and Maryah Sydnor chipped in six points and nine boards in her first-ever postseason game.
Kaila’Shea Menendez led Western Carolina with 16 points and was the only Catamount to score more than eight in the game as the Mountaineers limited WCU to just 32.6 percent (15-for-46) from the floor.
Appalachian State connected on 39.7 percent (23-for-58) of its shots, including an impressive 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. Three of which came from A. Freeman, and the team was 11-for-16 from the charity stripe. The Mountaineers finished with 41 rebounds to Western’s 29 and forced 29 Catamount turnovers while snagging 17 steals. The Apps finished with 16 assists on the night.
Appalachian State will face either Chattanooga or Furman in the SoCon semifinals tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. at US Cellular Center.
GAME NOTES: Appalachian State forced 10 or more turnovers for the 96th-straight game... A. Freeman posted her third-career double-double in Southern Conference Championship action... ASU scored 30 points in the paint compared to WCU’s 14 and notched 23 points off turnovers... the Apps are 19-1 this season when scoring 20 or more points off turnovers... Appalachian improved to 3-2 all-time against the Catamounts in the SoCon tournament... the Apps are one win shy of tying last year’s program record of 25 wins... the Mountaineers improved to 4-1 all-time when playing as the No. 2 seed at the league championships.
ASU 61, WCU 43
Score by periods 1st 2nd Total
Western Carolina......25 18 43
Appalachian State.....29 32 61
WCU: HUNNICUT 4, ABRAHAM 2, LANE 4, MENENDEZ 16, WAKAMA 5, CAMPBELL 4, TERRY 8. FG: 15-46, 3FG: 6-19, FT: 7-11. 29 REBOUNDS, 29 TURNOVERS, 9 ASSISTS.
ASU: SYDNOR 6, A. FREEMAN 17 (11 REBOUNDS), WELDON 16, GARY 4 (4 ASSISTS), C. FREEMAN 11, SHARKEY 4, MALLOW 3. FG: 23-58, 3FG: 4-8, FT: 11-16. 41 REBOUNDS, 21 TURNOVERS, 16 ASSISTS.
Photo Courtesy: Chakeitha Weldon, ASU Athletics