NEW ORLEANS – Appalachian State University women’s basketball ousted No. 8 Coastal Carolina with a convincing 79-58 victory in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on Tuesday.
With the win, Appalachian will move onto the quarterfinals to face top-seed Little Rock on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET). The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals on Saturday at 6 p.m. (ET).
The Apps led from start-to-finish en route to their first-ever Sun Belt Tournament victory.
Five student-athletes scored in double-figures with Madi Story firing in an efficient performance scoring a team-high 24 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor. Ashley Bassett-Smith played well on both ends of the floor with 13 points and 12 off the glass for her first double-double of the season.
Q. Murray scored 13 points and dished out a game-high six assists. The redshirt-sophomore played a pivotal role in shutting down Coastal’s leading scorer, Ced Gibson. Coming into the game, Gibson was averaging 14.9 points per game coming into the contest but was held to 1-for-12 shooting and just five points.
The backcourt of Jones and Murray played exceptionally well as the tandem combined for 24 points, 11 assists and just two turnovers.
Appalachian sprung out to a 24-15 lead in the opening quarter thanks to 66.7 percent shooting from the field and tenacious defense limiting Coastal to 6-for-19 from the floor. Leading 13-10 with 4:56 left in the game, App outscored Coastal, 11-5, to end the quarter for the nine-point lead.
The Mountaineers kept the intensity and energy up doubling up on Coastal, 34-17, thanks to the play of Bassett-Smith and Murray. Murray had a hand in all six points in a 6-0 spurt with a field goal and two assists, both of which went to Bassett-Smith.
Coastal would comeback to cut the deficit to eight, 38-30, with two minutes left in the opening half, but Jones sparked a 9-2 surge that pushed the lead back to 15 as App scored a season-high 47 points in the first half.
App shot an impressive 53.1 percent in the first half while committing just five miscues.
Coming out in the second half, the Apps didn’t let up jumping out to a 20-point lead in the early minutes of the third period following a free throw from Story.
Coastal would slice the gap to 13, but never threatened the Apps the rest of the way as App kept the lead in double digits. App had leads by more than 10 points in the two setbacks against Coastal, but the third time was a charm as it coasted to the 21-point win.
App significantly improved in the turnover column, committing 12 turnovers. Appalachian averaged 22.5 turnovers against the Chanticleers in the two matchups during the regular season.
The Mountaineers’ defense forced Coastal into 20 turnovers for 25 points.
– Story’s 24 points is a career-high in a Sun Belt Tournament game, as the junior didn’t score any points in the previous two SBC Tournaments.
– Story has hit at least 20 points in seven contests this season.
– The Mountaineers assisted on 57.1 percent (16-of-28) field goals.
– App is 9-1 when scoring 70 or more points this season.
– Jones led the team in plus/minus with a plus-20.
– App is 31-27 all-time in conference tournaments and 13-9 in the first round.
– The win snaps a three-game slide in conference tournaments
– The 21-point win is the largest conference tournament win since defeating Chattanooga, 77-52, on March 4th, 2012 in the SoCon Tournament.