Five reach double-digits, App State women’s basketball opens season with 74-68 win over Charlotte

Pre+Stanley+brings+the+ball+down+court+against+Charlotte+Nov.+25.+Stanley%27s+court+presence+became+more+critical+for+the+Mountaineers+this+season+after+the+graduation+of+Ashley+Polacek+this+spring.

Andy McLean

Pre Stanley brings the ball down court against Charlotte Nov. 25. Stanley’s court presence became more critical for the Mountaineers this season after the graduation of Ashley Polacek this spring.

Silas Albright, Sports Editor

Led by double-digit scoring from all five starters, App State women’s basketball started its season 1-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Mountaineers knocked off in-state rival Charlotte 74-68 on Wednesday at the Holmes Convocation Center. 

Senior guard Pre Stanley, last year’s leading scorer, led the way for App State, finishing with 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds. 

“I think this is the statline that she can produce for us,” head coach Angel Elderkin said. “I really think she could actually assist the ball at a higher level … I just love that she has embraced the role. What we’ve been working on, she executed.”

Since the graduation of Ashley Polacek from last year’s team, Stanley has stepped into a point guard role for her senior season after playing mostly shooting guard during her first three seasons. 

“I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to help the team, for all of us to be better,” Stanley said. “As time goes on, I’ll adjust and like I said, it’s nothing perfect. So as we continue to pound the stone, I’m looking forward to getting better at that position.”

The Mountaineers struggled to get going in the first quarter. Stanley and junior guard Tierra Wilson combined to go 0-for-10 on field goals to start the game while junior forward Lainey Gosnell picked up a pair of early fouls. 

“We just kept telling them, ‘those are great shots, we gotta keep going,’ and then I think slowly we got into a rhythm,” Elderkin said. 

With under a minute left in the first, Charlotte scored on a layup to go up 16-12. In the final seconds, Stanley drove baseline and found junior guard Brooke Bigott wide open in the corner. Bigott nailed a three-pointer to make it a one point game heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter was tightly contested with neither team able to mount much of a lead. The 49ers led by three when App State got the ball back for the last possession of the half. Junior forward Haile McDonald grabbed an offensive rebound and finished the putback to make it 32-31 Charlotte at the break. 

“She knows her job: go in, get us an offensive rebound, get us a quick bucket. And she did that,” Elderkin said. “You look at the stat sheet like ‘Wow, she only played one minute.’ That one minute is valuable to our program.”

Later in the third quarter, App State extended its lead with a quick 6-0 run fueled by timely buckets from bench players. Senior forward Maya Calder came in and promptly grabbed back-to-back putback layups. Sophomore guard Janay Sanders finished a fastbreak with a layup  to force a Charlotte timeout and give the Mountaineers a 53-44 lead with 1:59 to go in the third. 

App State grabbed 10 offensive rebounds and scored 16 second chance points in the third quarter alone to take a 55-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“To see them in the third quarter have a good effort and just pursue loose balls, that was just that extra effort, those winning plays. They just really wanted it,” Elderkin said. “Those are things that are just intangibles that come from relentless effort.”

In the fourth, Charlotte clawed its way back within three points of the Mountaineers several times. Gosnell scored nine of her 12 points and took two charges in the fourth quarter to help the Mountaineers to victory. 

“She was in foul trouble in the first half, and sometimes players don’t bounce back,” Elderkin said. “They get two fouls and get out of rhythm, but her mindset, she has the ability to not let that take her out. I just thought it was true mental toughness today for her.”

At the 3:58 mark, 49ers freshman guard Jacee Busick hit a three-pointer to make it 64-61, but App State did enough to hold onto their lead, winning 74-68. 

“Love the fact that we got a win, of course there’s some things we could always fix to be better, but we’re living and we’re learning as we go along,” Stanley said. 

Senior forward Michaela Porter and Gosnell each recorded double-doubles: Porter with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Gosnell with 12 points and 10 rebounds on 4-for-5 from the floor and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. 

“I was struggling (in) the first half, in foul trouble, and so I guess I just had a lot of gas left in my tank,” Gosnell said. “So I was able to put it all out there (in) the second half, really (in the) fourth quarter.”

Bigott finished with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal while Wilson finished with 10 points, all of which she scored in the second half. 

The win snapped a three-game losing streak against Charlotte (0-1).

App State returns to action Nov. 29 against UNC-Asheville (1-0). Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center.