Raven Gary scored a career-high 19 points, but Appalachian State University women’s basketball was unable to outlast Chattanooga in a 72-67 loss in the semifinal round of the Southern Conference Tournament on Sunday at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Mountaineers (20-10) trailed by as many as eight points in the first half, but were able to take a 62-61 lead with just over three minutes left before the Lady Mocs (28-3) sealed the victory with clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch. In a back-and-forth game that saw 16 tie scores and 12 lead changes, Chattanooga would strike first when Ashlen Dewart scored on a layup less than a minute into the ballgame.
UTC would lead by as many as four points (12-8) in the early stages of the contest before Appalachian battled back to take its first lead of the game at 18-16 with just over eight minutes to go in the first half.
The Lady Mocs would mount a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to jump out to their largest lead of the day at 26-18, but App State closed the first half on a 12-4 run to cut the deficit to just two points (30-28) at the break.
An intense second-half battle would follow as neither team was really able to gain the upper hand until Appalachian pulled out in front by five points (60-55) with 5:31 left to play.
Chattanooga responded with a quick 6-0 run to jump back in front by one (61-60), but the Mountaineers regained the lead on Kelsey Sharkey’s layup just moments later.
It would be the last time Appalachian would lead, however, as the Lady Mocs were able to hold serve despite a Maryah Sydnor three-pointer that made it 68-67 with just 21 seconds left.
After hitting a pair of free throws, Chattanooga was able to get in the face of Sydnor, who missed high off the backboard on a potential game-tying three with four seconds to go.
“It was a tough battle. Appalachian State did a good job of mixing up their defenses and keeping us off balance. Down the stretch, I felt like our kids made plays when they needed to," said UTC coach Wes Moore. "They’ve done that all year long. I’m really proud of the way they hung in there when things were a little shaky and were able to make plays down the stretch to pull it out.”
Gary led all players in scoring while dishing out four assists, and Courtney Freeman added 12 points and grabbed 10 boards on the day to round out her senior campaign with three double-doubles. Sydnor finished with 10 points and Katie Mallow added 10 off the bench.
“I don’t know how many of you guys were around last year, but when I sat up here last year after our loss in the tournament, we were the more talented team and we lost because we didn’t fight in the game," said ASU coach Darcie Vincent. "It’s an honor and I’m very proud. These kids gave every ounce, every minute of every second of every tear that they played today. You’re not going to win them all, but you’re certainly not going to lose them all, either. But I am so proud of our effort; we left everything out on that floor today."
Taylor Hall paced Chattanooga with 17 points and was 11-of-11 from the charity stripe while Dewart scored 16 and pulled down eight rebounds. Alex Black added 11 points for the Lady Mocs, who shot 22-of-27 from the free-throw line in the contest.
Game Notes: For a second time in the 2013 SoCon Tournament, Appalachian finished with four players in double figures, including Gary (19), C. Freeman (12), Sydnor (10), and Mallow (10). Courtney Freeman led Appalachian’s rebounding efforts with 10 boards on the day, and her third double-double of the season. Gary led the Mountaineers with four assists. The Mountaineers recorded 14 points off the bench, while the Lady Mocs capitalized on 13 second chance points. Statistically, the Apps outplayed the Lady Mocs. Appalachian shot 43.3 percent (26-for-60) on the day to Chattanooga’s 42.6 percent (23-for-54). The Mountaineers connected on 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) in three-point land, while UTC shot 4-for-17 (23.5 percent), and the Apps were an impressive 90.9 percent (10-for-11) from the line, while Chattanooga completed 22-for-27 (81.5 percent).
UTC 72, ASU 67
Score by periods 1st 2nd Total
Appalachian State 28 39 - 67
Chattanooga 30 42 - 72
ASU: SYDNOR 10, A.FREEMAN 4, GARY 19 (4 ASSISTS), C.FREEMAN 12 (10 REBOUNDS), HUFFMAN 8, SHARKEY 4, MALLOW 10. FG: 26-60, 3FG: 5-13, FT: 10-11. 32 REBOUNDS, 10 ASSISTS, 14 TURNOVERS.
THREE-POINTERS: MALLOW 2, C.FREEMAN, RAVEN, SYDNOR.
UTC: HALL 17 (8 REBOUNDS), DEWART 16 (8 REBOUNDS), CHRISTOPHER 9, BLACK 11, LAMBERT 8, PAYNE 2, TOWNS 5, JACKSON 2, DUPREE 2. FG: 23-54, 3FG: 4-17, FT: 22-27. 35 REBOUNDS, 12 ASSISTS, 11 TURNOVERS.
THREE-POINTERS: BLACK 2, LAMBERT, TOWNS.
Photo Courtesy: Raven Gary, ASU Athletics