Mountaineers rout Bulldogs in non-conference finale


App State women’s basketball finish their non-conference schedule with a 5-6 record. Photo courtesy: App State Athletics/Diana Gates

Colt Jensen

Appalachian State returned to the Holmes Center Wednesday after a two game road trip against Power Five teams to blow out the Big South preseason No. 1 team, UNC Asheville 81-51 in a convincing win to end their non-conference schedule.   

The Mountaineers (5-6) came out with an extremely aggressive defense that held UNC Asheville (6-3) to eleven points, and allowed App State to claim a two point lead at the end of the first quarter.

“We had a team coming today that shoots 46 percent and my hope today was keeping them at 35 percent [FG], but our players responded by holding them to 27 percent,” head coach Angel Elderkin said.

Appalachian rode the defense into the second quarter where they did not allow UNC Asheville to hit a single shot 0-for-eight from the field. Conversely, the Mountaineers started the second quarter on a 7-0 run before eventually stretching their lead to fifteen and never looking back.

Freshman center Bayley Plummer had a career night on the boards as she led the team with nine rebounds, added eight points, two blocks and two steals. Her play in the second quarter was pivotal to pulling away, and setting the tone for the rest of the game.

“When anybody came through, Bayley [Plummer] was able to block shots, which helps when you get beat off the bounce, and then come up with the boards,” Elderkin said.

Appalachian State went to the locker room with a 15 point lead, and came out of the half shooting lights out, shooting 66 percent from the field and 75 percent from three.

The Mountaineers pushed the lead to 24, but the Bulldogs, an NCAA tournament team last season and only lost one starter from that team, rallied with a 8-0 run.

It was at this point in the third quarter that redshirt sophomore guard Q. Murray, who had a career high in points, and led all scorers with 22 points took over the game.

Murray hit a big 3-point shot to end the run, then hit a quick transition layup, before coming from behind to swat a Bulldog fastbreak layup out of the air and capped the sequence of incredible plays with a four point play.

“She’s [Murray] the type of kid that you give two days off, and she’s in varsity gym putting up shots and that’s gotta pay off,” Elderkin said.

Hard play was noticeable at the end of third quarter as redshirt junior Amber Driver, who had a career high eleven points, was able to draw a shooting foul with .8 seconds left, and convert on both free throws to grow the lead to 60-37.

Senior guard Joi Jones was another big reason for the Mountaineer’s success as she neared a double-double with her 13 points and eight rebounds in yet another impressive performance.

App State continued to extend their lead in the fourth quarter, and were able to give all the reserves some key minutes. Julia Beuhler was able to log her first minutes of her sophomore campaign and the Mountaineers bench was all smiles throughout the game, and that excitement is something they look to carry over to conference play.

“With Tennessee, and tonight’s game, we saw that we could play anybody, we weren’t intimidated by the name on the jersey,” Murray said. “Playing Tennessee is preparing us for a team like UT-Arlington in the Sun Belt.”

With the win the Mountaineers finish their non-conference schedule and will travel to UT-Arlington on Dec. 29 to begin their Sun Belt conference schedule.

Story By: Colt Jensen, Sports Reporter