Mountaineers go 1-1 in weekend of conference play


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Graduate student guard Brooke Bigott attacks the Southern Miss. defense in App State’s seven-point defeat Jan. 19.

James Parker and Trey Blake

App State women’s basketball was back home over the weekend competing against the Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles on Jan. 19, and Saturday against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. They are recently back from a four-game road trip that saw them drop two games to Texas State and James Madison while also winning the other two to Arkansas State and Georgia Southern.

The first of the two games saw the Mountaineers fall to the Lady Eagles 75-68. 

Sophomore guard Emily Carver led the team with a career high 23 points that saw her go 8-11 from the field and six of eight from the three-point line. Carver was followed by junior guard Faith Alston who flirted with a double-double, having 17 points along with eight rebounds and five assists. Redshirt senior forward Janay Sanders also found herself in double figures with 10 of her 14 points coming in the second half. 

The Black and Gold struggled to start the game outside of Carver, who had 10 of App State’s 12 points up to the first media timeout where the Lady Eagles led 14-12. After a 6-0 run from Southern Miss, App State came back with a 7-0 run of its own that saw three straight forced turnovers on the defensive end to finish the first quarter down one at 20-19. 

“You know, I just want to do what’s best for my team,”  Carver said. “Defensively, rebounding, energy; whatever needs to be done is what’s important if the scoring comes then it comes.”

The Mountaineers started the second quarter with much of the same pace they ended the first quarter with after another Carver three followed by a three from redshirt junior forward A’Lea Gilbert. Southern Miss kept taking the ball to the inside and dominated with 24 first half points in the paint. 

With the Lady Eagles center Melyia Gilbert finishing the game with 26 points and 15 rebounds, head coach Angel Elderkin talked about their paint presence, citing some defensive miscues that could’ve led to a better result.

“They exploited us,” Elderkin said. “You know, going forward we have to help better and that trap we did towards the end of the game was effective, so doing that more would be helpful.” 

The second half was more of the same as the Lady Eagles jumped out to as much as a 15-point lead with eight minutes left in the game, but Elderkin implemented a trap which allowed the Mountaineers to cut the lead to eight and then another run that saw the lead cut to just one at 63-62 with just a 1:48 left. 

After two runs from Southern Miss, some costly turnovers from the Black and Gold pushed this game out of reach and Southern Miss hit some clutch free throws to end the game 75-68.

In their matchup against the Chanticleers on Saturday, the Mountaineers secured an 81-74 victory. Carver, the reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week, put up yet another career high of 27 points along with seven rebounds.

Sophomore guards Emily Carver and Zada Porter celebrate a seven-point victory behind Carver’s career-high 27 points Jan. 21, 2022. (Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics)

The first quarter was dominated early by the Chanticleers as they took a quick 18-8 lead. After missing seven straight shots, App State’s scoring drought came to an end thanks to a three-pointer by freshman guard Alexis Black. Following a Mountaineer defensive stop, Black took the ball coast-to-coast and finished an and-one layup to make it an 18-14 lead going into the second quarter. 

Black was a key piece for the Black and Gold in Saturday’s matchup. She finished with 18 points, two rebounds and two steals in just 17 minutes of action.

The Mountaineers began the second quarter firing on all cylinders with senior guard Taylor Lewis and graduate student guard Brooke Bigott each knocking down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to just two points. 

Coastal responded with a scoring run of its own led by Aja Blount, who finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Chanticleers expanded their lead to 12 points before a 6-0 run by App State made it a 44-38 Coastal lead at halftime. 

The second half started in similar fashion to the first as the Chanticleers went on a 5-0 scoring run to bring their lead back to 11 with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter.

Over the next five minutes, the Mountaineers shifted the momentum of the game and found a rhythm on the offensive end. Throughout the rest of the quarter, App State went on a scorching 21-0 scoring run fueled by multiple three-pointers from Carver, eight-straight made free throws and seven consecutive turnovers forced by App State’s smothering defense.

“I’m just gonna go out there and fight every night,” Carver said. “If it comes to defense, then it comes to defense, so we just fought our butts off.” 

After taking full control of the game, the Mountaineers found themselves with a 60-50 lead at the end of the third quarter.

“Our third quarter defense was some of the best defense that we’ve played,” Elderkin said. “It really helped us get separation.”

Despite a high scoring quarter, the Chanticleers never regained the lead in the fourth quarter and the Mountaineers got the 81-74 win to improve their record to 8-11.

The Mountaineers face off against the Georgia State Panthers on ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.