Mountaineers return home, claim 67-33 victory

Senior+guard+Janay+Sanders+surveys+the+Bobcat+defense+in+App+States+home-opening+win+Nov.+14%2C+2022.+

Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Senior guard Janay Sanders surveys the Bobcat defense in App State’s home-opening win Nov. 14, 2022.

Chance Chamberlain

App State women’s basketball won 67-33 in its Monday night home opener at Holmes Convocation Center for the first win of the season, erasing a two-game losing streak. 

“Today was a great opportunity to be back home in front of our fan base and open up our season,” said head coach Angel Elderkin.

After giving up 90+ points in the last two games, the App State defense held Lees-McRae to 33 points and 17% from the field.

“Coming back and putting a currency on guarding the basketball and trying to let our players understand that it starts with the ball,” Elderkin said. “Getting back to being in the passing lanes and contesting passes.”

Along with outscoring the Bobcats, the Mountaineers outrebounded Lees-McRae 54-33 to control the game’s pace. 

“The one area of growth that you’ll probably hear me talk about for every game this season is our rebounding,” Elderkin said. “We’ve got to hit, we’ve got to box out and we have to win the loose balls.”

The offense used the excellent defensive play to their advantage with 27 fast break points, emphasizing passing the ball up the court once gaining possession of a missed Bobcat shot. 

“One of the areas we’ve analyzed after both games is that we weren’t pitching the ball ahead and weren’t getting out in transition,” Elderkin said. “We feel our team is best when we are doing that and when we are attacking.”

The game started slow for both teams, as App State led 5-2 after the first media timeout. After the timeout, the Mountaineers went on an 8-0 run to end the quarter led by redshirt senior guard Janay Sanders’ six points scored in the first quarter. 

Once again, the second quarter was low-scoring as sophomore guard Emily Carter made two shots from beyond the arc. Going into the half, both teams shot below 30% while App State held a 24-9 lead. 

After the half, the Mountaineers’ fast break offense was on full display, outscoring the Bobcats 26-11 in the third quarter. Half of App State’s points came from a 13-3 run to end the quarter, led by graduate student guard Brooke Bigott’s three-point shooting and fast break layups. 

“Defense starts our offense,” Bigott said. “We ended with 46 deflections; without those, we wouldn’t have gotten those runouts.”

Holding a 28-point lead, the Mountaineers cruised to the end of the game with back-and-forth scoring to secure a 34-point victory. 

“For the first home game of the season, we had a different energy about us, and that’s what won us this game,” Sanders said. “We talk about it a lot that we want to play for each other and be the best first year for some people and be the best last year for some people.”

The Mountaineers finished the game 36% from the field and 21% from three. Bigott led the team in scoring with 13 points, and Sanders scored 12 points; both finished with eight rebounds each. Graduate student guard Lauren Carter led the team in rebounds with 12 to go along with her four points scored. 

“If we get that board, our bench goes crazy, and everybody goes crazy, especially here at home,” Bigott said. “It creates momentum for everybody on and off the court.”

In getting their first win of the season, App State holds a record of 1-2, with hopes of adding another home victory Nov. 17 against Norfolk State. 

“Trying to build on what we did tonight and not take any steps back,” Sanders said.