App State enters the game reeling from a lopsided 59-93 loss against Alabama that was foul-laden, as both teams combined to commit 62 fouls and shoot 70 total free throws.
The Apps will need to rebound, putting the loss to the Crimson Tide behind them, before taking the floor against a more closely matched Buccaneer squad. If they let the early road loss linger, they’ll end up playing catch up for the majority of Thursday’s game.
Elderkin said in a press conference before the season that the nonconference schedule was meant to challenge the team immensely in preparation for Sun Belt play later in the season. This should allow the team to enter Thursday’s game with a clear focus, knowing that in the end, nonconference scheduling is about more than just a tally in the win or loss column.
The combination of forwards KeKe Cooper, Ashley Bassett-Smith and Mia Marshall have posted a whopping nine blocks in just two games this season for the Mountaineers.
Solid post defense will allow the team to minimize second chance points, especially against ETSU’s third-leading scorer, center Yamile Rodriguez, while also giving the Apps extra scoring opportunities — a big focus of Elderkin’s coming into the season.
It also forces the Bucs to become one-dimensional if they can’t get a shot off in the post, allowing App State guards to anticipate pass outs.
Bridge over troubled waters
Junior guard Shamuria Bridges will be public enemy No. 1 for the Mountaineers Thursday.
Bridges enters the game having already accumulated 40 points in the Bucs’ first two games, including six 3-pointers. App State guards Joi Jones and Farrahn Wood will be tasked with keeping her under control.
Bridges does have a tendency to jack up a shot from the time to time, evidenced by her 28 shot attempts on the year – 12 more than any teammate – something the Mountaineers can definitely use to their advantage.
If the Apps can force the Bucs to become one-dimensional by locking down the post, Bridges may become her own worst enemy in the game by forcing shots in an effort to gain some momentum.
Story by: Chris Warner, Sports Editor