Another slow start dooms Mountaineer comeback

Bria+Carter+finished+with+a+career+high+14+rebounds+en-route+to+a+double-double.+%0APhoto+courtesy%3A+App+State+Athletics%2F+Dave+Mayo

Bria Carter finished with a career high 14 rebounds en-route to a double-double. Photo courtesy: App State Athletics/ Dave Mayo

Colt Jensen

Fresh off their thrilling 3-point buzzer beating win at ETSU the Mountaineers fell 65-62 in their regular season home opener to College of Charleston (2-3) after coming from behind 22 before missing a game tying 3-pointer to have their comeback attempt ultimately fall short

After App State (3-3) allowed College of Charleston to sprint out to an early 11-1 lead, the Apps never were able to catch up, and missing critical free throws hurt the Mountaineers in the end. Appalachian has now lost its second consecutive home opener, and second consecutive game to the College of Charleston.

App State had chances to pull even when they pulled within one in the fourth quarter, but 18 missed free throws prevented them to ever taking a lead. Appalachian’s lost was finalized by two missed 3-point shots in the last 30 seconds that could have tied the game.

“We’ve been a slow starting team and if you look at last season sometimes we were almost knocked out in the first quarter,”  head coach Angel Elderkin said. “We played the same zone in the first half that we played in the second half, and what was different was we were more aggressive”

The Apps started off the game by going almost seven minutes without a field goal, and shooting 22 percent in the first half. A quick start by the Cougars wound up turning into a 22-point, 34-12 lead at the midway point in the second quarter.

Things then got chippy as a hard fought and difficult first half started to draw to a close when redshirt sophomore guard Q Murray picked up a technical foul with under two minutes to go, and then moments later, Elderkin picked up another technical foul. That seemed to spark something in the Apps as they ended the third quarter with a quick 11-0 run.

Jones, who lead the team in scoring and had a season high 29 points, and fellow senior Bia Carter, who had the third double-double of her career and a career high 14 rebounds, led the way into the second half with the renewed aggressive energy.

“I don’t think it feels too good [to lose] just because we know that we could have started off better and it wouldn’t have been that way in end,” senior guard Joi Jones said.  “But just to know that we are a team that when we do get down we don’t give up, that’s good to know.”

That was certainly the case as the Mountaineers opened up the third quarter with more aggressive play that led them get to the free throw line a season high 41 times. Four Cougar players fouled out by game’s end.

Being a team that struggles at the 3-point line, getting to the free throw line was important for the Mountaineers.

“We get ourselves to the line, we know right now that we are not a good 3-point shooting team so we pride ourselves the attack and going off the bounce and I thought we did a good job at that tonight,” Elderkin said.

Getting the lead down to seven points at the end of the third quarter, the Mountaineers held College of Charleston without a field goal for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter before getting the score within one.

Free throws pushed the lead to three for College of Charleston in the final minute, and Jones was unable to recreate the last second magic that helped her hit the game winner at ETSU as her last second game tying three fell short and sealed the loss for the Mountaineers.

“One thing we have to evaluate is our starts,” Elderkin said.  “We have to continue to evaluate that, and we have to get in the gym and shoot free throws.”

Now the Mountaineers will look to improve on those points and get their first home victory as they take on North Carolina A&T November 30th at the Holmes Center.

Story By: Colt Jensen, Sports Reporter