App State women’s basketball pulled out an 81-78 triumph over Georgia Southern (11-12, 5-9 SBC) on Senior Day at the Holmes Center.
App State finishes the regular season with a 13-11 mark and a 10-8 record in Sun Belt play. The Mountaineers head into the Sun Belt Tournament winners of five of their previous six games en route to a second winning season in the past three years. App also ties its best Sun Belt record since joining the league.
Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) wrapped up the best Sun Belt weekend of her career, firing in a season-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Gosnell averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, shot 60 percent from the field, 70 percent from 3-point land and 85 percent from the line over two games.
Pre Stanley (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) poured in 16 points, with nine coming at the free-throw line. The senior also dished out four assists, grabbed five boards, and recorded four steals.
Janay Sanders (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) scored 15 points while coming on strong in the second half with 12 points. Sanders shot 7-for-9 from the line and went 3-of-6 from the floor after a 1-for-4 start. Michaela Porter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Obama Academy) notched 14 points and six of her seven field goals, and Tierra Wilson’s (Winston-Salem, N.C./RJ Reynolds) three trifectas led to nine points. Porter has scored in double figures in five straight games, which is a career long.
Both offenses were on full display as the two foes hit over 45 percent of their field goals. App State scored a season high in point, shot a season-best 51 percent from the field and 52.6 percent from deep.
It wasn’t until early in the fourth period the Apps gained separation thanks to a 9-2 run that stretched a six-point advantage to 65-52. Back-to-back buckets by Porter and a 3-pointer by Brooke Bigott (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) capped off five straight points to give the Mountaineers their largest lead of the game.
The Mountaineers led by 13 points later in the contest and had all the momentum. However, the Eagles stormed back and made things interesting in the end by slicing the gap to just three, 78-75, with six seconds left in the game. Mya Burns hit a 3-pointer after Stanley went 1-2 at the line to make it a one-point game. But Sanders nailed two at the free-throw line and sealed a third straight win over the Eagles.
It was a close first half in which the two teams exchanged six ties and four lead changes while neither team held the lead by more than seven.
App State and Georgia Southern went into the second period with a 14-14 tie after Stanley scored the final four points of the quarter with the Apps trailing 14-10. A 7-0 run to start the second frame gave the Black and Gold a 21-14 lead. Georgia Southern responded with a spurt of its own to tie up the contest, 26-26. App ended the half scoring six of the final eight points to take a 32-28 advantage into the break.
App State is now 10-0 when scoring over 70 points. The Apps are 8-2 when recording 20 or more points off turnovers. Appalachian has hit at least 10 3-pointers in four of the last six games. App State averaged 109.8 points per 100 possessions over the weekend, which is the highest offensive rate in a two-game stretch this season.
With Georgia State owning a higher winning percentage over App State, the Apps will be the third seed in the East Division and face the sixth seed from the West Division, ULM, in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Championship in Pensacola, Fla. on Friday, March 5 at 12 p.m. (ET).