Mountaineers lose to Samford, still earn first-round bye in SoCon tournament

Chelsey Fisher

It was another close one for the Appalachian State women’s basketball as they fought tooth and nail to pull a win over Samford, but was unable to seal the victory falling 63-60.

The Mountaineers spent the much of the game battling Samford and seemed to have found the fire that was missing in the previous 24-point loss to Chattanooga.

“A loss is a loss,” freshman Bria Huffman said. “No matter if it’s 30 points or three.”

App State (19-10, 13-8 Southern Conference) put points on the board first when Anna Freeman sank a 3-pointer right out of the gate.

The Bulldogs (15-15, 12-9) continually applied defensive pressure to the Mountaineers but weren’t able to stop them from scoring.

Midway through the half, the Bulldogs settled into an aggressive offensive pace that made the score seesaw back and forth for the rest of the night.

App State showed the depth of their bench in the game as they had a good mix of freshman and older players on the court, working together.

“Younger girls bring new life and new energy,” senior Anna Freeman said. “They haven’t had quite the success earlier in the year that some of us had our freshman year, so they’re really hungry.”

The Mountaineers found a way to lead for most of the first half but couldn’t seem to pull away from the pesky Bulldogs and with seven minutes left had a six-point lead (21-15).

Right before the teams headed into the locker room there was a foul called on Kelsey Sharkey, which allowed Samford to shoot a free throw and take a 33-32 lead into the second half.

Coming into the second half, it looked as if the Mountaineers had lost some of its speed, and were struggling to defend against the Bulldogs.

Samford’s offense caught fire as the Bulldogs went on a shooting spree, much of which was due to the Mountaineers continuously sending them to the free throw line.

During the last 15 minutes the game began to build up suspense as the lead continued to change almost every possession.

The game continued to roll as the Bulldogs and Mountaineers fought to the finish and with 46.4 seconds left on the clock Raven Gary shoots for two before the crowd went wild as Anna Freeman tied the score (60-60).

In a heartbreaking finale, the Bulldogs had the last possession and were able to sink one final 3-pointer with only three seconds left on the clock.

App State had two players score double digits with Anna Freeman finishing with 26 and Maryah Sydnor having 16.

“You can’t go in there [the tournament] too comfortable at all,” Freeman said. “I think in the past we’ve gone in very comfortable with where we’re at but we need to come with our work gloves and be ready to attack it this year.”

With the season now over, the Mountaineers have earned a first round bye in the SoCon Tournament.

“The fourth seed won it last year, so we’re still confident about it,” Huffman said.

The team will take on the College of Charleston at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in Asheville’s Kimmel Arena.

Story: KAITLYN THRUSTON, Senior Sports Reporter