ASU women lose close game to Chattanooga
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
ASHEVILLE – For much of the 2012-13 season, Appalachian State women's basketball coach Darcie Vincent looked for her Mountaineers to show as much fight as they had talent.
Sometimes they did. Often times, especially against the elite of the Southern Conference, they did not. So, even though Appalachian State lost 72-67 to regular-season SoCon champion Chattanooga in the league tournament semfinal game at U.S. Cellular Center Sunday, Vincent showed pride in her team despite the defeat.
It was a different take on a loss than what Vincent had when the Mountaineers lost to Samford in the finals of the 2012 tournament. Vincent was bitterly upset at the lack of fight the Mountaineers showed against Samford.
It was a different story on Sunday.
“When I sat up here last year after our loss in the tournament, we were the more talented team, and we lost because we didn't fight in that game,” Vincent said. “(Today), it's an honor and I'm very proud. These kids gave every ounce, every minute of every second of ever tear that they played today.
“You're not going to win them all and you're certainly not going to lose them all, either. But I am so proud of our effort. We left everything out on the floor today.”
Appalachian State (20-10), which was blown out 69-45 on Senior Night by the Mocs on March 2, never trailed by more than eight Sunday in a game that was tied 16 times. The lead changed hands 12 times, but Chattanooga took the lead for good when the Mocs' 6-foot-4 center Ashlyn Dewart scored with 3:12 left in the game to put the Mocs in front 63-62.
Chattanooga (28-3) protected its lead at the foul line, where the Mocs made seven of their final eight attempts. Taylor Hall, who made all 11 of her attempts in the game after not scoring in the first half, made the final four.
The first two of those four were with 13.4 left in the game to put the Mocs in front 70-67. Just one possession earlier, Maryah Sydnor drained a 3-point shot with 20.5 left to pull ASU to 68-67.
Appalachian State went to Sydnor for one more shot following Hall's foul shots. Sydnor took a pass from Raven Gary, but Chattanooga's defense forced Sydnor into taking an off-balanced 3-point shot that was no good.
Hall got the rebounds and hit two foul shots with 2.0 seconds left to ice the victory. The junior finished with a team-high 17 points.
Vincent felt that Sydnor may have taken her shot too quickly, and could have taken a few more seconds to get a better look at the basket. There were four seconds on the scoreboard clock when Sydnor took her final shot, but to be fair, Chattanooga also defended the play well by forcing Gary's pass to Sydnor to be farther away from the 3-point line than the Mountaineers would have liked.
Appalachian State was also out of timeouts, and could not regroup.
“That's a sophomore (not) realizing that 12 seconds is a whole lot of time,” Vincent said. “We could have gotten a much better look than that.”
Vincent also said there was some debate with the coaching staff when it came to attacking the basket on the final possession.
“We could have probably almost gone into an offensive setup,” Vincent said. “You're rushed and you're trying to get kids all on the same page. It just wasn't the same execution.”
Chattanooga had a foul it could have committed without sending ASU to the line during that stretch. Chattanooga coach Wes Moore said the Mocs decided to guard the perimeter of the court and concede a two-point basket if the Mountaineers wanted to take it.
“We had a foul to give, but we decided we'd try to switch on picks and really make it difficult for them to get a look,” Moore said. “We wanted to make sure we didn't give them an opportunity to take it in by fouling the shooter.”
Gary led Appalachian State in scoring with 19 points and four assists. The senior point guard gave the Mountaineers a 60-55 lead by going on a personal 7-2 run. Gary scored three baskets during the run, her final basket coming off a drive with 5:27 left.
Another senior, Courtney Freeman, added 12 points, while sophomore Katie Mallow scored 10.
Appalachian State senior forward Anna Freeman spent much of the first half in foul trouble. She finished with just four points, but pulled down six rebounds and blocked two shots.
Both teams shot the ball better in the second half than in the first. Chattanooga hit 52.2 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes, and made 22-of-27 from the foul line the entire game.
Appalachian State made 48.5 percent of its shots in the second half and 90.9 percent of its free throws for the game, but did not get as many chances from the line as the Mocs did. The Mountaineers made 10-of-11 from the foul line, but just 4-of-4 in the second half.
Neither team shot as well from the field in the first half. Appalachian State shot 37 percent, while Chattanooga hit just 35 percent. The Mocs went on a 10-0 run in the first half to claim a 26-18 lead, their largest of the game.
Appalachian State answered by closing out the first half with a 10-2 run that put the Mountaineers behind 30-28 at halftime.
Chattanooga women 72, Appalachian State 67
Appalachian State (20-10)
Sydnor 4-8 1-1 10, A. Freeman 1-5 2-2 4, Gary 6-19 6-6 19, C. Freeman 5-9 1-2 10, Huffman 4-7 0-0 8, Sharkey 2-5 0-0 4, Mallow 4-7 0-0 10, Wilkerson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-60 10-11 67.
Hall 3-9 11-11 17, Dewart 6-9 4-4 16, Christopher 4-8 1-2 9, Black 3-9 3-3 11, Lambert 3-7 1-3 8, Payne 1-2 2-4 5, Towns 1-2 2-4 5, Downes 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson 1-5 0-0 2, Dupree 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-54 22-27 72.
Halftime score‑ Chattanooga 30, ASU 28. 3-point goals-ASU 5-13 (Mallow 2-2, C. Freeman 1-1, Sydnor 1-3, Gary 1-5, A. Freeman 0-2), UTC 4-17 (Black 2-6, Towns 1-1, Lambert 1-4, Downes 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Christopher 0-2). Rebounds-ASU 32 (C. Freeman 10), UTC 35 (Hall, Dewart 8). Assists-ASU 10 (Gary 4), UTC 12 (Lambert 3). Turnovers-ASU 14, UTC 11. Total fouls-ASU 21, UTC 10. Fouled out-ASU, A. Freeman, Sharkey. Technical fouls-None. Att.-NA.