DAVIDSON, N.C. – With 21 seconds left in the game, Ashley Polacek (Ottawa, Canada/UCF) hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to help lift Appalachian State University women’s basketball (2-2) to an exhilarating 81-78 win over Davidson (2-2) on Saturday evening in John M. Belk Arena.
The Wildcats came back from a 78-73 deficit to tie up the contest before Madi Story (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) found Polacek in the corner and drained the tie-breaking 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down.
Davidson had three opportunities on the other end to knot things up and force overtime, but App forced the hosts into some tough shots to clinch the win and snap a nine-game slide on the road.
Five different Mountaineers scored in double figures with Tierra Wilson (Winston-Salem, N.C./RJ Reynolds) posting a team and season-high 17 points on an efficient 7-of-11 coming off the bench. Maya Calder (Landover, Md./National Christian Academy) had her best performance of the season with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, a team-best nine rebounds, and a personal-high four helpers. The pair led a bench unit that scored a staggering 46 points and shot a stellar 70 percent (19-27).
Four of the five players that came off the bench scored at least six points, including Armani Hampton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Atkins) and Brooke Bigott (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) scoring six points. The six points and five rebounds for Hampton are both season bests, while Bigott played her first game as a Mountaineer and provided a spark with six points in 12 minutes. Nicola Mathews (Adelaide, Australia/College of Central Florida) aided in App State’s late first-quarter run with a 3-pointer of her own.
Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) scored 10 points, while Pre Stanely (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) also tallied 10 points and grabbed five off the glass. Polacek rounded out the leading scorers with 10 points and five assists. Story also dished out five assists with three points.
The contest was a game of runs, especially in a track meet of a first half where both teams shot over 48 percent from the field. After Davidson started the game with a 10-2 surge in the first two minutes of the game, App State hit 12 straight shots to outscore Davidson, 27-11, over the final eight minutes of the period. Appalachian went into the second stanza with a 29-21 lead, which the 29 points were the most scored in a quarter this season.
Back-to-back field goals at the beginning of the second quarter by Polacek extended the App lead to its largest at 34-21. However, Davidson didn’t go away quietly, as it went on a 17-0 run over the next
3:34 to go in front, 38-34. App State weathered the Davidson burst to cut the lead to one, 45-44, at the end of the first half thanks to a bucket from Stanley.
Story’s free throw with 7:45 left tied up the game before back-to-back layups by Calder and one of two 3-pointers from Wilson capped off an 8-0 run that pushed the Black and Gold to a 52-45 cushion. App State stayed in front of Davidson despite the Wildcats slicing the deficit to one, 63-62, right before Stanley nailed two at the charity stripe to give her team a 66-62 lead going into the final frame. Calder and Wilson scored 14 of the Mountaineers’ 21 points in the frame and hit six of its eight shot attempts.
With Davidson closing the gap to one possession, 67-64, Gosnell and Wilson hit trifectas while Armani Hampton converted on an open layup to give App a 75-64 lead. Davidson then started to claw its way back in the game that led to the tight finish.
Appalachian turned in its best offensive outing of the young season in points, field goal percentage (47.1 percent) and 18 assists on 32 buckets. The eight 3-pointers are a season best as well.
The Mountaineers will go for their third straight win against Elon at 6:30 p.m. in the Holmes Center.