For a second-straight season, Appalachian State University women's basketball saw its Southern Conference championship hopes dashed in the league title game by Samford, 54-43, on Monday at U.S. Cellular Center. After not trailing in either of their first two tournament games, the Mountaineers
(25-6) fell behind 18-8 early on to the Bulldogs (20-12). After sinking just four of its first 20 field-goal attempts, Maryah Sydnor connected on a layup to spark an 8-5 run leading to just a 23-16 deficit at the intermission.
The Apps continued to fight in the second half and pulled even at 29-29 on a Katie Mallow three-pointer in the corner on a pass from Anna Freeman. ASU then took its first lead of the half at 33-32 on a Freeman layup with 8:38 to play.
Appalachian would lead one more time by a point before the Bulldogs closed out the game with a 20-8 run. Appalachian pulled within six points with just over a minute to play when Freeman knocked down a trey, but ASU came up empty in their final four possessions to seal the team's fate.
Samford also converted 7-of-10 free throw attempts in the final two minutes to extend its lead and put the Mountaineers away for good.
A. Freeman and Courtney Freeman tied for the team lead with 10 points each, but scoring was hard to come by as Appalachian converted just 29 percent (18-for-62) of its field-goal attempts and 4-of-16 three-pointers. A. Freeman notched a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds in addition to two assists, two blocks and two steals.
Just one day after notching a career-best 30 points in the semifinal win, Sydnor was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting. The freshman added three rebounds and a block in 34 minutes.
Chakeitha Weldon added eight points on 4-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds. The senior swiped three of ASU's eight steals and dished out a pair of assists.
The Mountaineers owned a narrow 38-37 advantage on the glass, but scored just seven second-chance points off of 15 offensive boards.
Each team committed 16 turnovers, but the Bulldogs were able to convert the ASU miscues into 23 points, while Appalachian scored just 13 points off turnovers.
Samford's Jazmine Powers led the two-time champions with 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting, while Hannah Dawson grabbed 11 rebounds. Despite scoring just six points and turning the ball over five times, Shelby Campbell rode a solid weekend to Most Outstanding Player honors at the tournament.
A. Freeman and Sydnor earned first team all-tournament accolades, while Weldon garnered second-team honors.
The Mountaineers will discover their final postseason fate when NCAA, WNIT and WBI Tournament selections are made on March 12.
GAME NOTES: Appalachian State forced 10 or more turnovers for the 98th-straight game... Samford's bench scored 19 points compared to just nine from ASU's reserves... the Apps lost to Samford for the third-straight time in the postseason to fall to 0-3 against the Bulldogs in SoCon Tournament games... A. Freeman collected her fourth career SoCon Tournament double-double... A. Freeman, Sydnor and Weldon were named as all-tournament selections... it was the second-such selection for A. Freeman and Weldon... the Mountaineers dropped to 5-2 all-time when playing as the No. 2 seed at the league championships.
SAMFORD 54, ASU 43
Score by periods 1st 2nd Total
Samford............ 23 31 54
Appalachian State...16 27 43
SAMFORD: REECE 4, DAWS\\ON 7 (11 REBOUNDS), POWERS 14 (7 REBOUNDS), ANDERSON 4, KETCHUM 6, MARTIN 11, CAMPBELL 6, BABINEAUX 2. FG: 19-47, 3FG: 4-19, FT: 12-16. 37 REBOUNDS, 16 TURNOVERS, 11 ASSISTS.
ASU: SHARKEY 2, SYDNOR 4, A. FREEMAN 10 (12 REBOUNDS), WELDON 8 (7 REBOUNDS), C. FREEMAN 10, EDWARDS 4, MALLOW 5. FG: 18-62, 3FG: 4-16, FT: 3-4. 34 REBOUNDS, 16 TURNOVERS, 8 ASSISTS.
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Anna Freeman, ASU
Maryah Sydnor, ASU
Laura Murray, Davidson
Shelby Campbell, Samford
Jazmine Martin, Samford
Chakeitha Weldon, ASU
Taylor Reece, Samford
Taylor Hall, Chattanooga
Kaila'Shea Menendez, WCU
Morgan Wrightson, Wofford
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER- Shelby Campbell, Samford
Photo Courtesy: Anna Freeman, by Tyler Buckwell, ASU Athletics