App State women’s basketball suffers Sun Belt Tournament defeat, promising season ends


Courtesy of App State Athletics, Sun Belt Conference

Sophomore guard Faith Alston drives past a Little Rock defender in her 24-point performance March 4, 2022.

Ben Gosey, Reporter

App State women’s basketball suffered a 70-58 loss Friday to Little Rock in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament.

The Mountaineers entered the tournament ranked fourth in the Sun Belt, earning a first round bye behind a 14-11 regular season. Little Rock came into the tournament No. 5, earning its spot in the quarterfinals after beating the University of Louisiana Monroe Wednesday. 

The Mountaineers started the game sluggish, allowing the Trojans to get an early 18-6 lead after a 12-2 run. App State trailed 19-9 after the first quarter.

“I think our team was prepared, certainly motivated and ready to go,” said head coach Angel Elderkin. “We just didn’t start the game like we usually do.”

The Mountaineers opened the second quarter quickly, cutting the Trojans’ lead to six points in the first three minutes. The teams were stuck at a 23-17 stalemate for much of the quarter until the Troy offense ended its drought with three-straight made baskets. App State trailed 33-25 at halftime. 

The Mountaineers and Trojans continued to trade baskets coming out of halftime with sophomore guard Faith Alston and junior guard Janay Sanders scoring quickly. App State battled back with a 12-2 run halfway through the third quarter. Led by defense, the Mountaineers caused four turnovers in a two-minute span. After an Alston layup, the Mountaineers tied the game 46-46. App State’s offense slowed down to close the quarter, down 52-48. 

The Mountaineer offense fell apart in the fourth, going on a scoring drought for just under four minutes. App State only scored 10 points the entire fourth quarter. 

The team was completely outmatched on the glass, with the Trojans outrebounding the Mountaineers 48-25. 

The Mountaineers also committed 24 fouls during the game. Early foul trouble limited senior forward Michaela Porter, while sophomore forward A’lea Gilbert had four fouls before halftime. 

“I think it was the difference in the game,” Elderkin said. “Defense and rebounding wins in March, and they really stuck to it.” 

App State had two players finish in double figures with Alston leading the team, posting a career-high 24 points. Junior guard Janay Sanders followed behind with 18 of her own. Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, senior forward Alexia Allesch, pulled down nine rebounds but struggled to find her shot, only attempting three shots on the day. 

“Quite frankly, if Faith didn’t have the night she had, I think this would have been a different game for us and not a very good showing for our basketball team,” Elderkin said.

The Mountaineers head back home to Boone where they await any potential postseason invitations.