App State falls to Norfolk State amid second half struggles

Graduate+student+guard+Brooke+Bigott+drives+past+a+Norfolk+State+defender+Nov.+17%2C+2022.+

Courtesy of Joe Johnson, App State Athletics

Graduate student guard Brooke Bigott drives past a Norfolk State defender Nov. 17, 2022.

Spence Smithback

Mountaineer women’s basketball returned to Holmes Convocation Center Thursday to take on the Norfolk State Spartans in a losing effort, coming up short 70-65.

Redshirt senior Janay Sanders once again led the team in scoring, contributing 25 points in addition to four rebounds and two assists. Sanders was followed by graduate student guard Lauren Carter and junior guard Faith Alston, putting up 12 and 10 points, respectively. 

App State managed to keep pace with the Spartans in the opening quarter, trailing by two heading into the second. The second quarter featured an impressive 14-point scoring run for the Mountaineers, allowing them to stretch their lead to 15 points with four minutes remaining in the half.

The second half would not be as fruitful, with the Mountaineers only managing to score four points in the third, evaporating their lead and resulting in a tie at 49 heading into the final 10 minutes.

App State kept things close, with the gap never exceeding two possessions in the fourth quarter, but a strong 21-point effort in the fourth by Norfolk State proved to be too much to handle.

Despite the loss, head coach Angel Elderkin remained optimistic about the team’s progression early in the season.

“I was really proud of our team’s effort tonight. I think we took a step in the right direction,” Elderkin said. “We showed a lot of toughness, some things that we’ve been dialing in in practice in terms of winning loose balls, boxing out and the little things. I really feel like our team brought them to the table.”

Norfolk State has been a proven postseason team in the past, appearing in the WNIT last season. Elderkin acknowledged the importance of playing quality programs early in the season to help prepare for Sun Belt play. 

“They really challenge us, and they expose your weaknesses,” Elderkin said. “Every game, we’re getting the feedback we need to be the team that we need to be [during conference play]. In scouting them, I thought it was a great opportunity for our group. We have a lot of respect for what they do and how they do things.”

App State will take on yet another talented non-conference opponent in West Virginia Sunday afternoon. Tipoff in Morgantown is scheduled for 1 p.m., with ESPN+ providing live coverage.