Women’s basketball falls in Chattanooga, wins share of SoCon title

Junior forward Kelsey Sharkey attempts a layup against a Furman defender last week. The Mountaineers lost to Chattanooga Sunday 80-71.  Paul Heckert  |  The Appalachian
The Appalachian State women’s basketball team fell just short of their SoCon title hopes with their 80-71 loss to Chattanooga.

As a result of the defeat, the Mountaineers lost their chance at an outright SoCon regular season championship and the No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament next Sunday. Appalachian will share the regular season title with Davidson.

“We weren’t able to do what we needed to do,” head coach Darcie Vincent said. “Maybe in a couple weeks, we can look back and appreciate being co-champs and having that accomplishment, but right now we are very disappointed.”
The first half showed how evenly matched the two rivals were, in a game that featured five lead-changes.

Freshman Katie Mallow hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 25-25 with 8:53 remaining in the opening half. The Mocs would finish the last nine minutes of the first half on an 18-8 run, giving them a 43-33 lead heading into the locker room.

“For some reason, we were bogged down in the first half,” Mallow said. “It seemed like every shot they put up went in.”

Appalachian fought valiantly in the second half in an attempt to trim down the double-digit Moc lead.

With 11:54 remaining in the final half, a fast-break layup by freshman Maryah Sydnor pulled the Apps within a possession and brought the score to 56-55.

The resilient Mocs did not falter in the face of adversity, meeting every Mountaineer run with one of their own.

Chatt was able to push its lead to 73-64 with just over three minutes remaining, but the Mocs would have to fend off one more push by the Mountaineers.

Back-to-back three-point buckets by Mallow and senior Canesha Edwards brought the score to 73-70, with 1:33 left on the clock.

But the Mountaineers were unable to get any closer. The Mocs went 7-8 from the freethrow line in the game’s final 82 seconds.

Even with the loss to Chattanooga, Appalachian can still call itself a Southern Conference regular season champion. But for a perfectionist like Vincent, that wasn’t the goal.

“We had an opportunity to achieve one of our goals tonight against a team that had nothing to play for, other than wanting to beat us,” Vincent said. “You’re not going to get me to say
something positive when we had everything for the taking.”

The team will shake off disappointment and head into the SoCon tournament this weekend – and their eyes are on the prize.

“We were conference champs last year, but we didn’t win the SoCon tournament,” Freeman said. “Our whole season comes down to us winning the SoCon tournament and getting a bid to the NCAA tournament. That’s our main focus.”

The Apps earned the No. 2 seed for the Southern Conference Basketball Championships and will receive a first round bye. Appalachian’s next game will take place Saturday in Asheville, with the game time and opponent to be determined.

Story: TYLER WOOD, Sports Reporter
Photo: PAUL HECKERT, Intern Photographer