Women’s tournament preview

Womens+tournament+preview

Lee Sanderlin

Appalachian State (10-19, 7-13 Sun Belt) is set to make their second appearance in the Sun Belt Tournament as the eighth seed where they will take on top-seeded Arkansas State (25-4, 19-1 Sun Belt), at 11:30 a.m. CT Wednesday, March 9. The Mountaineers and Red Wolves faced each other twice during the regular season, with the most recent matchup coming in Boone, North Carolina, during both team’s final regular season game. Arkansas State won both times, by scores of 83-60 and 83-74 respectively. If the Mountaineers want to write a Cinderella story in March for themselves they’ll have to start by taking down the Red Wolves.

Win the rebounding battle

Appalachian State is one of the best rebounding teams in the Sun Belt Conference and opposing teams make it their mission to crash the glass in order to neutralize the Mountaineers’ rebounding advantage. Last time these two teams faced off in Boone, The Mountaineers were out rebounded by 13. Despite the rebound difference, App State played the Red Wolves much tighter and led for a duration of the game, a stark contrast from the two teams’ first meeting in Jonesboro earlier in the season. If Appalachian State has plans on advancing in the tournament, they have to win the rebounding battle by a convincing margin to have a chance.

Familiarity is your Friend

This matchup will be the third meeting between the two teams this season, and their second in four days. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses by now and how to capitalize on them. For Appalachian State they’ll have to work on stopping the 3-point shot, something that they struggled with in the last matchup. App had a lead before giving up four 3’s during a 17-4 run in the third quarter. In order to prevent crippling scoring runs like that one, App has to do a better job at locking down the perimeter and forcing the Red Wolves into tougher shots.

Joi Jones has to be Joi Jones

Madi Story has gotten a lot of the attention this year for her scoring, and she deserves it, but Joi Jones is the team’s closer. When the game is tight down the stretch, the ball is going to be in her hands. Jones will have to provide some clutch buckets to keep the Mountaineers in the game when the going gets tough.

Craven some bench points

Kaila Craven is the Mountaineers’ X-factor against Arkansas State. A freshman, Craven comes off the bench and average 9.3 points a game. In the last game of the year, she was able to score 14 points despite a poor shooting night, going 4-12 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc. If Craven is able to score well in Wednesday’s matchup, she would provide a needed spark off the bench and would make the task of knocking off the top seeded Red Wolves seem a lot more achievable.

Story by: Lee Sanderlin, Sports Editor