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Janay Sanders
Janay Sanders was one of two players to score 11 points for the Mountaineers.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Balanced Attack Leads App State Women’s Basketball to Tournament Quarterfinals

The App State women’s basketball team opened play at the Sun Belt Tournament with a second round victory over No. 7 seed Louisiana, 51-38, on Wednesday. The No. 10 seeded Mountaineers will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal, where they will face No. 2 seed Texas State at 7:30 p.m. CT (8:30 p.m. ET).

“Obviously proud is just an understatement of how I feel right now of our group,” said head coach Angel Elderkin. “Especially to hold a team to 38 points defensively and just kind of grind it out. We talked last year that tough teams win in March and our play every day moving forward was that we develop that mentality. There were so many moments during the game that that shined through. So, really great feeling, obviously just proud. We’ll celebrate and then we’ll be ready to move on to the next.”

Redshirt senior Janay Sanders and sophomore Emily Carver each netted a team-high 12 points and freshman Chaé Harris scored 11 points. Harris went 3-for-3 from the arc, while Sanders shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the line. Junior Faith Alston pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, while Sanders and senior Taylor Lewis recorded six each. Lewis also recorded five of the Mountaineers’ six blocks.

App State held Louisiana to a mere four points in the first quarter and one 3-point bucket over the duration of the game. Wednesday’s game also marked the first game since the Mountaineers’ home opener against Lees-McRae on Nov. 14, that the Black and Gold held their opponent to under 40 points. The Mountaineers caused 18 Louisiana turnovers and scored 18 points off turnovers. The Mountaineers also tallied 19 points off the bench.

Louisiana scored first for a 2-0 lead, but Alston put App State on the board with a trey for the sole lead change of the game, putting App State up, 3-2. The Mountaineers held tight to their lead, outpacing the Ragin’ Cajuns for the remainder of play. A trey and free throw from Harris, as well as layups from sophomores Zada Porter and Mariah Frazier, and Sanders extended App State’s lead to 13-4 at the end of the first period.

The Mountaineers faced a scoring drought during the second period as Louisiana steadily closed the deficit, but Sanders snapped the drought with a layup, putting the Mountaineers up 15-9. Harris came in clutch with back-to-back treys, but Louisiana mustered a half-court buzzer beater, its only 3-point bucket of the game, to cut App State’s lead to 21-14 at the half.

In the third quarter, Carver was responsible for nine of the Mountaineers’ 15 points, drilling a pair of free throws, back-to-back layups, as well as a 3-point bucket. Alston executed a three-point play to put App State up, 34-26. A pair of free throws from Sanders extended the Black and Gold’s lead to 36-28 to close the period.

Sanders opened the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws as well a jumper to keep the Black and Gold ahead, 42-34, over the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Mountaineers went on a 9-0 run as Frazier made a layup, Sanders and Porter hit jumpers, and Carver contributed a trey. A quartet of free throws from Alston and Sanders with 26 seconds left in regulation sealed the deal for the Mountaineers, as they took the victory, 51-38, to advance to the quarterfinal.