NEW ORLEANS – A third-quarter surge by Little Rock doomed Appalachian State University women’s basketball in a 66-34 defeat to the top-seeded Trojans on Thursday afternoon in Lakefront Arena.
App State concludes the 2017-18 season at 8-23, while LR will play the winner of Troy and South Alabama in the semifinal round on Saturday.
LaPresha Stanley (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) and Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) each scored a team-high nine points while Maya Calder (Landover, Md./National Christian Academy)amassed a game-high eight rebounds off the bench. Nicola Mathews (Adelaide, Australia/College of Central Florida) paced the Black and Gold with three assists and six points.
Appalachian knew it was in for a battle with the Sun Belt regular-season champs. Both teams started slowly on offense as each started 2-for-7 from the field. After Little Rock started out the gate 6-1 in the first 4:37 of the game, Mathews, and Lainey converted on back-to-back field goals to score four of the next six points to bring the deficit to three, 8-5. LR scored the following four points to take a seven-point edge into the second quarter.
In the second frame, the Apps couldn’t get the momentum going on offense as it would eventually go down by 17 until Gosnell hit a reverse layup that sent the Apps into the break with a 26-11 deficit.
App State’s offense found some rhythm at the beginning of the third period hitting its first three shots with Stanley hitting a jumper and tough 3-pointer from the right corner followed by a bucket from Gosnell. However, the Trojans answered all three field goals and then some when it shot 66.7 percent from the field and four of their 10-made shots from behind the arc that kept the Apps at bay.
Appalachian improved on defense in the final quarter, limiting the Trojans to just 10 points, but it was too little, too late. Aside from the third quarter, the Black and Gold held LR to 36.1 percent from the field. Appalachian outrebounded LR, 34-32, and held a 13-9 edge in offensive rebounds, but mustered up just three second-chance points.
With the Mountaineers having the least experienced team in the Sun Belt, they’ll have the entire team expected to return next season along with the injured players Madi Story, Kaila Craven and UCF transfer Ashley Polacek. Adding those three talented players back to the team with the now-experienced group that was active and the three future Mountaineers in Haile McDonald, Brooke Bigott, and A’Lea Gilbert, the Apps will be loaded and ready to contend for a Sun Belt title.