App State Woimen Edge Texas State in Final Seconds, 66-64....SAN MARCOS, Texas - Junior guard Madi Story (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) hit a layup with three seconds left to push Appalachian State University women’s basketball (6-7, 1-1 SBC) to a gritty 66-64 victory over Texas State (6-7, 1-1 SBC) on New Year’s Eve in Strahan Coliseum.

Story paced the Apps with a game-high 14 points while chipping in with five boards. Ashley Bassett-Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/UT Martin) scored 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.  Bria Carter (Spotsylvania, Va./Spotsylvania) stuffed the box score with nine points, a game-best seven boards and four assists, and Q. Murray (Baltimore, Md./George Mason) rounded out the leading scorers with eight points.

App State went on to shoot a season-high 47.4 percent from the field while scoring 42 of its 66 points in the paint. 

Appalachian snaps the Bobcats’ three-game win streak, which was a Sun Belt best going into today’s contest. Despite TXST shooting 50 percent from the field and 3-point range, Appalachian made the plays it needed to down the stretch to pull out the first SBC win of the season.

Trailing 54-48 with 9:19 left in the game, Appalachian outscored the hosts 18-10 the rest of the way. The Black and Gold shot 9-for-15 (60 percent) during the stretch while limiting the Bobcats to just four made buckets. 

Following a layup from Texas State’s McKinley Bostad with eight seconds left in the game, Murray found a cutting Story down the baseline before going through traffic to hit the game-winning shot. TXST had a chance to win the game, but the Bobcats’ go-ahead attempt fell short.

App State and Texas State went back-and-forth in a contest that saw seven ties and 14 lead changes. App State took its first lead of the game, 10-9, with 2:55 thanks to a 6-0 spurt capped off by Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson). The Bobcats would retake the lead with a 15-13 advantage going into the second frame.

The second quarter was much of the same, where the Apps and Bobcats couldn’t gain any separation from each other. Bassett-Smith hit a shot down low to put App ahead 22-18 during the makings of what looked like a big run for the Black and Gold, but the Bobcats outscored the Apps 13-5 over the final 7:48 of the first half thanks to three trifectas and a 31-27 lead going into the break.

App State would score the first eight points of the second half to go out in front, 35-31, while three different Mountaineers scored during the charge. TXST answered with two treys to retake the lead that it wouldn’t give up and eventually went into the final quarter with a 49-46 edge. 

After the Bobcats took their largest lead of the game with 9:19 left, 54-48. Appalachian kicked it into gear with a 14-3 run over the next six minutes to take a five-point lead, 62-57. Appalachian clamped down on defense forcing TXST into five turnovers and a 4:27 scoring drought. 

Six different players scored for the Apps, three of which came off the bench. Amber Driver (Houston, Texas/Tyler JC) hit her lone field goal of the game to begin the run while two freshmen in Brooklyn Allen (Canton, N.C./Pisgah) and Armani Hampton (Winston-Salem, N.C.) hit clutch back-to-back layups to cap off the stretch. Allen and Hampton played less than 15 minutes each, but both players came up big in crunch time.

TXST wouldn’t give up as it came back to tie the game before the thrilling finish, which both teams would exchange leads in the 1:08, including Bassett-Smith’s layup that gave App a 64-62 advantage. 

Appalachian shot 58 percent in the second half (34.6 percent in first half) while scoring 30 of their 39 points in the second half in the box.

App State will return home on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Arkansas State at 7 p.m. for the Sun Belt home opener inside the Holmes Center.

Quotable

On the Win (Coach Elderkin)
“Today was a great team win. I loved the grit and toughness our team played with, especially in the last 10 minutes.”

On the final play (Coach Elderkin)
“Our last play was obviously designed to get the ball in Joi’s hands. We discussed if they didn’t guard the inbounds, to look to throw the ball back. But give all the credit to Ashley [Bassett-Smith] flashing to the ball and then Q. [Murray] making a great pass to Madi [Story] for the great finish. 

Tip-Ins
- Despite not scoring 20 points like the past two games, the bench did shoot 5-of-7 with 13 points.
- App State has scored 30 or more points in the paint in all six wins (6-0).
- The Mountaineers are 3-2 this season in games decided by five points or more.
- Appalachian is 3-2 against Texas State, and it’s the first win on the road against either Texas team in the Sun Belt (UT Arlington).

Second Half Surge Not Enough in Men’s Hoops’ Loss

SAN MARCOS, Texas –– Despite a late surge in the second half behind a powerful 1:22 run that saw Ronshad Shabazz (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep (W.V.)) pour in three consecutive triples to help bring Appalachian State University men’s basketball within just two points at 50-48 following a 19-7 run; Texas State would hold off the inspired rally and prevail 67-58.

 

The Mountaineers (5-7, 0-1 Sun Belt) were led offensively by Shabazz who would finish with a team-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half. Griffin Kinney (Delaware, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy) picked up his second career double-double and second in as many games - finishing with 13 points and a new career-high 11 rebounds.

The Apps fell behind in the early going to the Bobcats (8-5, 1-0 Sun Belt), after Texas State up a 17-5 advantage at the 13:41 mark of the opening half. However, over the course of the next 7:06, the Mountaineers would battle back to within just six points at 25-19 after a jumper from Isaac Johnson (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day).

From there, the Bobcats would score 10 unanswered points to end the half and lead the Mountaineers 35-19 at the break.

 

After trading buckets early in the second period, Appalachian State would go on an ensuing 24-10 run to cut what was an 18-point Bobcat advantage down to just two points at 50-48 with 8:11 to play. In the early going of the second half, App State garnered some momentum from Tyrell Johnson (Atlanta, Ga./Stephenson) swatting shots on back-to-back attempts in the paint near the Bobcat basket. He finished with a career-high four in the game.

Following the furious run by the Black and Gold and behind Shabazz’s heroics from downtown, the Bobcats would not give in and push its two-point lead back up to nine with a 7-0 run.

Appalachian would not get closer than eight points the rest of the way and Texas State sealed the win in what was both teams’ Sun Belt Conference opener.

App State will get back on the court on Monday, Jan. 2 when they square off against UT Arlington at 8 p.m. ET from the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.

 Notes: With the loss, App State moves to 3-3 all time against Texas State … Ronshad Shabazz’s 19 points was his 11th double-digit scoring game of the season and 29th of his career … Shabazz also tied his season high with four 3-pointers … Griffin Kinney picked up his second double-double of the season and of his career … Kinney also posted a career-high 11 rebounds … the Mountaineers 19 points in the first half was their lowest total of the season … App State collected 40 rebounds for the sixth time this season … Appalachian outrebounded its opponent for the eighth time this year … Tyrell Johnson swatted a career-high four blocks and now leads the team with 14 on the season.

 

Catawba Women's Basketball Rallies To Down Lenoir-Rhyne, 71-67

Salisbury, N.C. - The Catawba Women's Basketball Team (8-3, 5-1) scored the final 14 points of the contest to rally and defeat Lenoir-Rhyne (7-4, 3-3), 71-67, Saturday afternoon in a South Atlantic Conference game at Shuford Memorial Gymnasium.

Catawba's Bri Johnson (Statesville, N.C.) led all scorers with 20 points as the Indians held the Bears scoreless for the final 3:33 to take the win.

Lenoir-Rhyne was led by sophomore forward Madi Suddreth (Taylorsville, N.C.) with 18 points while both senior forward Brooke Robinson (Vale, N.C.) and sophomore guard Kendall Toineeta (Cherokee, N.C.) added 12 points each but the Bears saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.

Catawba, which remained tied for second place in the league standings, also received 15 points and nine assists from Serena Brown (Fort Washington, Md.) in the win.

The Indians scored 28 points in the final period in addition to hitting nine three-pointers and forcing the Bears into 19 turnovers in the contest. The Bears also lost despite shooting 57 percent (26-of-46) for the game.

Lenoir-Rhyne returns to Salisbury, N.C., to face Livingstone on Monday afternoon beginning at 2:00 p.m. Catawba hosts Brevard in a South Atlantic Conference game on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

 

Duke Falls at Virginia Tech 89-75 in ACC Opener

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Justin Bibbs scored 18 points to lead Virginia Tech to an 89-75 upset of No. 5 Duke on Saturdayin the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Bibbs broke out of a season-long slump, hitting 6 of 9 from the field, including a season-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (12-1, 1-0), who won their eighth straight game.

Virginia Tech snapped a nine-game losing streak to Duke (12-2, 0-1), which played without preseason All-America Grayson Allen, who was suspended indefinitely by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski after tripping an Elon player on Dec. 21.

The Hokies led from start to finish, jumping out to a 47-31 halftime lead. The Blue Devils got as close to 52-41 in the second half after a 3-pointer by Luke Kennard with 15:29 remaining, but got no closer.

Ahmed Hill had 17 points for Virginia Tech, which shot 55.2 percent (32 of 58).

Kennard paced the Blue Devils with 34 points.

BIG PICTURE
Duke: Allen might have helped the Blue Devils on the offensive end, but Duke needs to shore up its traditionally tough defense. The Blue Devils gave up season highs in points, shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage. The Hokies shot 61.5 percent (8 of 13) from beyond the 3-point arc.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have received votes in every Associated Press poll this season, but hadn't cracked the Top 25. They most certainly will when the latest poll is released early next week.

UP NEXT
Duke will look to rebound when it returns home to face Georgia Tech on Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC's preseason poll.

Virginia Tech travels to Raleigh, North Carolina for just its second true road game of the season when it takes on North Carolina State on Wednesday. The Hokies haven't won in Raleigh since 2011.

 

Tar Heels Fall At Georgia Tech, 75-63

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner says he has the nation's least experienced roster.

He knows almost nobody thought his team would beat North Carolina so early into his first season.

"I'm really happy that this will give us some pep in our step, some momentum for the fan base," Pastner said. "They know this is a rebuild, but hopefully they can see the big picture down the road of what we want to do."

Josh Okogie scored 26 points, Ben Lammers had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Georgia Tech pulled off a major upset with a 75-63 victory over No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Justin Jackson finished with 16 points and Nate Britt scored 13 for the Tar Heels, who committed a season-high 20 turnovers. North Carolina (12-3, 0-1) never led after Okogie hit two free throws with 11:59 remaining.

"I told Josh that he did a much better job of coaching his team than I did and getting his team prepared than I did my team," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "I think early we took too many outside shots. We lost confidence, and they got more confidence. Their zone (defense) got stronger."

Before tipoff it seemed the Jackets (9-4, 1-0) had little chance to win. They didn't beat North Carolina A&T, which is 1-12, until the closing minutes on Wednesday. They also held off Wofford last week by four points and lost by 17 to Georgia. All were home games.

Pastner decided this week to demand more from Okogie. The coach was tired of seeing the freshman from nearby Snellville not using his full potential.

"No personal attacks, but if you're not playing well, I'm not into sugarcoating," Pastner said. "I don't believe in gray area, and he was told the truth about how he's been playing."

Okogie attacked on the Jackets' end throughout. North Carolina didn't adapt.

"Not only do I suck in the defense and kick it to others, I'm also putting the defense on their heels," Okogie said. "I felt like I needed to continue doing that and when I did we were successful."

The Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova in the national title game last season, had won three straight overall and seven straight in the series, but they shot poorly, missing 21 of 26 3-point attempts and hitting just 33 percent overall.

North Carolina had a big advantage in the stands as their fans outnumbered Georgia Tech's about three to one. The Tar Heels gave them few chances to get charged up.

"For me, it was crazy," Okogie said. "I didn't even know who the crowd was cheering for us or North Carolina."

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: Joel Berry II, the team's second-leading scorer, finished with eight points. He needed intravenous fluids to combat a virus early in the week. He played 23 minutes in blowout win over Monmouth, but scored just six points on free throws. ... The Tar Heels began the game leading the ACC with an 89.6 scoring average and plus-14 rebound margin. ... They lead the series 66-24, 16-6 in Atlanta and 13-9 under coach Roy Williams. ... North Carolina had won three straight at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech: The Jackets pulled off second big upset in the last 13 months at McCamish Pavilion. They beat Notre Dame, which advanced to the Final Four, last January. ... Began the game ranked last in ACC scoring 68.1 points. ... Closed first half by missing 13 of 15 from the field.

TREYS HARD TO COME BY

The Tar Heels were averaging nearly seven 3s per game, and Jackson, the team's leading scorer, began the game with 33. He went 0 for 5. In Wednesday's win over Monmouth, Jackson had five.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: Visits Clemson on Tuesday.

Georgia Tech: Visits No. 5 Duke on Wednesday.