NEW ORLEANS – Appalachian State University women’s basketball (17-13) got the 2019 Sun Belt Championships started off in a big way with a dominating 78-42 victory over eighth-seeded Coastal Carolina on Wednesday morning in Lakefront Arena.
The Mountaineers flexed their muscle on both sides of the court with four players scoring in double figures. On the other end, the Mountaineers handed the Chanticleers their worst loss of the season and a season-low 42 points. The 36-point victory is the largest margin of victory for the Black and Gold since defeating Gardner-Webb, 84-43, on Nov. 20, 2012.
It’s also the third straight season the Mountaineers recorded a Sun Belt Tournament and the biggest victory in terms of margin in an SBC Tournament game.
Defensively, the Mountaineers flustered the Sun Belt’s leading scorer, DJ Williams, into just eight points on 2-for-11 shooting. It was only the second time in conference play she has been held to single digits. Appalachian prevented any player from Coastal to score in double figures.
Appalachian will face No. 4 seed Georgia State tomorrow at 12: 30 p.m. ET in the quarterfinal round. The winner will face top-seed Little Rock on Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET in the semifinals.
Four players scored in double figures on a clicking offense that shot 49.3 percent from the field, including 52.8 percent from inside the arc. Ashley Polacek (Ottawa, Canada/UCF) shot 8-of-11 from the field en route to 18 points, while Madi Story (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. Pre Stanley (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) notched 15 points thanks to 7-for-10 shooting from the field. The trio of Polacek, Story and Stanley shot a combined 23-of-33 from the floor and dropped 51 points.
Tierra Wilson (Winston-Salem, N.C./RJ Reynolds) rounded out the leading scorers with 10 points off the bench. Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) had herself a stellar outing with a game-high 19 rebounds, leading a rebounding attack that posted a 49-37 advantage on the glass. CCU came in with a plus-9.7 rebounding margin, which was second in the conference.
All App needed was a 7-for-7 start from the floor and a 17-4 run in the first 4:37 of the game to take a commanding lead. Stanley, Polacek and Story hit all seven shots and scored 17 points during the hot start. Appalachian shot 10-of-15 from the field and hit 4-of-6 3-pointers in the frame, leading to a 24-13 lead after the frame.
Appalachian stayed on top of Coastal Carolina in the second frame, continuing its dominance. This time, the defense shut down the CCU offense, as it held the Chanticleers to just four points on 2-17 shooting and went into the break with a convincing 41-17 lead.
The Mountaineers never led by less than 20 points throughout the second half, growing their lead to as much as 37 late in the fourth quarter after a Haile McDonald jumper.
App State fell to Georgia State in the first and only matchup earlier this season, 85-75, in Atlanta. However, Story was out for the game with an upper-body injury. App State is looking for its first trip to a conference semifinal since the 2013 SoCon Tournament.
Head Coach Angel Elderkin
“I told our team this morning that everything happens for a reason. We had a tough game down in Conway against Coastal Carolina. In that game we learned a lot of tough lessons about our team, in terms of how we had to defend in transition, how we had to be ready and not be casual, and our team really locked in and they bought into that. I think we were great from the moment we walked off the bus, in terms of our energy, in our warm-ups, communication, and just everybody being all-in on today. I cannot say enough about our board play as we out-rebounded them 49-37 against a very good rebounding team. Being able to limit their big three in terms of numbers, number 30 (Naheria Davis), 23 (Caitlin Roche) and 32 (DJ Williams), which again just showed how locked in our team was today and executing the game plan.”
On limiting D. J. Williams to only eight points on the game:
“The game plan for today was to go at her on the offensive side of the ball and get her into foul trouble so we could limit our time against her. We were able to load up on her and make her face multiple defenders. I also think some of the adjustments we made against her in transition did not allow her to get out and get going as she is really great in the open court.”
On taking the positives from this game and using them for the rest of the tournament:
“Just shine a light on why we are playing another 40 minutes and to see what were the things we did right to give us the opportunity to come back and play tomorrow. Shine a light on that because we do not have a lot of time to sit and think about it as it is quickly on to the next game. We have to get them some rest, get them some food and then get them prepared. “