App State women’s basketball pushed the top-seeded Troy Trojans to the brink but fell 66-63 in the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Tournament in Pensacola, Fla.
The Apps end the season with a 15-12 mark while the Trojans advance to the finals, where they’ll play Louisiana in the championship on Monday.
Pre Stanley (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) led the Mountaineers with a career performance, tying a personal-high of 29 points with a career-best 14 rebounds for her first double-double. The senior guard shot 10-of-25 from the floor, 3-for-6 from deep, and hit six of her seven free throws.
Janay Sanders (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) scored 13, while Michaela Porter (Pittsburgh, Pa./Obama Academy) chipped in with 10 points. Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) tallied 12 rebounds on top of seven points and four steals.
It came down to the wire as the Mountaineers came back from a 10-point deficit with 3:52 left in the game to have a chance to send the contest into overtime. Stanley scored four straight points before Porter nailed a 3-pointer to bring the contest to within three points.
App had two looks to send the game into overtime, with the first going in-and-out. Gosnell came up with the offensive rebound that gave the Apps another attempt but fell short at the buzzer.
The Mountaineers came back from three double-digit deficits throughout the contest. Troy came out of the gate to take a 13-0 lead in the first 4:12 of the game. App State sliced the gap to five, 21-16, before the Trojans ended the quarter with a 27-18 edge.
After shooting 25 percent from the field in the first quarter, App State went 8-of-15 from the field in the second period to outscore the Trojans by nine. Midway through the second frame, Sanders started a 7-2 spurt that gave the Apps a 37-35 lead. Troy’s trifecta in the last minute followed by an App free throw led to a 38-38 halftime score. Stanley did her damage in the first half scoring 21 points.
The Trojans narrowly stayed in front of the Apps throughout the third quarter until a quick 5-0 surge in the final minute doubled their lead to 10.
Both teams struggled offensively in the final period. App State held Troy to its lowest scoring output in a quarter this season at four points but trailed by eight during a 3:42 scoring drought. Stanley’s jumper at the 3:20 mark broke the dry spell and started App State’s comeback.
The Apps held Troy to a season-low of 66 points for a second time this season. The Trojans came into the game averaging 86.7 points and was coming off a 103-point performance in yesterday’s win over Texas State. Three of the Trojans’ four lowest-scoring performances came against the Black and Gold, while the five free throw attempts were a season-low as well.
App State held a 44-43 rebounding edge, becoming the only team in the league to outrebound Troy in two games.
It was a successful season for the Black and Gold, recording a winning season and a trip to the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals for the second time in the same span. App State also finished the season winning seven of its last nine games. With cancellations and postponements taking place around the country during the season due to COVID-19, the Apps managed to play 27 games.