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Faith Alston
Faith Alston led the Mountaineers in scoring for the 18th time this season with 25 points.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Women’s Basketball Rallies to Down Mercer

The App State women’s basketball team defeated Mercer 81-78 in the Holmes Convocation Center on Thursday. The Mountaineers (6-5 overall) overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and went 4-0 in non-conference play at Holmes this season.

Senior guard Faith Alston scored a whopping 31 points for a new career high, draining 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc and 10 of 12 from the line.

Alston broke a 73-all tie by making a layup with 39 seconds left, and Chaé Harris’ rebound of a missed layup by Mercer set up two free throws by Alston to extend the lead to 77-73 with 10 seconds remaining.

Mercer made a layup to cut the Mountaineers’ lead to two, but Alston and Alexis Black both made a pair of free throws to push the lead to six before Mercer drained a last-second trey to account for the final margin in a game played without second-leading App State scorer Emily Carver.

“Seventy-eight points given up is not really something that we aim to do,” App State head coach Angel Elderkin said. “Today, we threw out our man, we threw out our zone, we went small, we exhausted everything. I think what happens when a team exhausts everything is you get a win. Hats off to our team.

“Obviously, the mantra going into today was ‘woman down, woman up.’ Not playing with Emily Carver, we knew it was going to be something that could impact us offensively, but I don’t think people understand what she brings defensively. With that being said, I thought we had our players step up today in a way that we needed heading into conference play. I’m proud of our group. We are undefeated in the non-conference at home since 2018. That was one of their goals on their goalboard, and you see it didn’t come easy. We talk all the time that you get what you earn, and I feel as though our team earned this win today.”

Thursday’s game marked Alston’s seventh as the Mountaineers’ top scorer. Alston also dished out a team-high six assists, recorded a team-high three steals and pulled down three rebounds. Junior J’Mani Ingram netted a season-high 17 points, while Black shot 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and 5 of 6 from the line to tally 11 points.

Fellow sophomore Rylan Moffitt pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and matched graduate student Mariah Frazier in the blocks category, as each had two.

The Mountaineers netted 22 points off the bench and tallied 19 points off turnovers. The Black and Gold held Mercer to three fastbreak points and six second-chance points. App State also held Mercer to several scoring droughts throughout the game.

Mercer jumped ahead 18-10 before junior Zada Porter knocked down a trey to cut Mercer’s lead to 20-15 at the end of the first quarter.

The Mountaineers went on an 8-0 run that included back-to-back treys from Black and Alston as well as an Alston layup to bring App State within two early in the second quarter. The Bears went on a 6-0 run later in the quarter and managed to take a 37-34 lead into the half.

Harris knocked down a trey in the third quarter before Mercer extended its lead, and App State closed out the third period trailing 56-52.

Mercer was quick to jump ahead 64-54 with an 8-0 run in the fourth. App State held the Bears to a scoring drought as it chipped away at the deficit with a pair of free throws and a fastbreak layup from Ingram, and three free throws from Alston to bring the Mountaineers within three at 64-61. The Bears went to the line to sink four free throws, putting their lead at 68-64, but Harris was quick to drain a crucial 3-point bucket.

Despite a Mercer jumper, the Mountaineers found momentum. At the line, Alston sank a pair of freebies before drilling a trey to cut Mercer’s lead to 70-69. Sent to the line, Frazier tied things up at 70-all with a free throw.

Mercer took a 72-70 lead on two free throws with 1:25 left, and Alston tied the score on her layup with 1:09 remaining. Black finally put App State ahead on a free throw with 59 seconds left, and Mercer made one free throw after a foul just one second later before Alston’s tiebreaking layup pushed the Mountaineers ahead for good.

Frazier tied things up at 70 all with a free throw. Alston kept things tied up at 72 all with a layup and Black gave the Mountaineers a 73-72 edge with a free throw. Alston extended App State’s lead to 77-73 after getting to the hoop for a layup and going to the line for a pair of freebies.

The Mountaineers will open Sun Belt play against Louisiana in Lafayette, La., on Dec. 30. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) and will be available to stream on ESPN+.