Drive to the basket

Appalachian State’s Maya Calder (1) drives past UNCG’s Te’ja Twitty (23) and Aja Boyd in the second half of the Mountaineers’ 68-65 win Nov. 15.

BOONE — The Appalachian State women’s basketball team has spent plenty of practice time working on its free throw shooting.

As the cliché goes, practice makes perfect, or close enough to perfect for App State.

The Mountaineers made 25-of-28 foul shots, including their final 10, in their 68-65 win over visiting UNC Greensboro in front of 254 fans at the Holmes Center Nov. 15. The Mountaineers (1-2) did not make a shot from the field in the final three minutes of the game, but got two free throws from Lainey Gosnell, two from Pre Stanley, four from Ashley Polacek and two game-clinching free throws from Madi Story with 6.2 seconds left.

“We have spent a lot of time talking about free throw shooting and holding them accountable to coming into the gym and getting extra shots,” App State coach Angel Elderkin said. “We told them at some time that you’re going to see it.”

Despite App State’s solid foul shooting, UNCG (1-2) had a final chance of extending the game into overtime, but Nadine Soliman’s 3-point attempt fell short.

App State picked up its first victory of the season after starting with road losses to Alabama-Birmingham and Georgia Tech the previous weekend. The Mountaineers had to fight for this victory after falling behind 31-28 at halftime.

Gosnell was the most accurate of App State’s foul shooters by making all eight of her attempts. She finished with a team-high 14 points and also grabbed five rebounds. Stanley made all six of her foul shots, added five rebounds and finished with 13 points.

Story made just 2-of-11 from the field, but made all seven of her free throws. She pulled down a team-high seven boards and finished with 11 points. Polacek also struggled from the field by making 2-of-9 shots, but also didn’t miss from the foul line by making 4-of-4 and finishing with nine points.

App State’s Bayley Plummer was limited to four points and grabbed six rebounds after spending much of the game in foul trouble. Every Mountaineer who played grabbed at least one rebound and all but one of the Mountaineers reached the scoring column despite the fact they shot 32.8 percent from the field.

“They had to foul us down the stretch,” Elderkin said. “If we were to miss those and if they were able to get a couple of possessions, the game could have gone a different way. It was gritty, but it was nice to see it end in a win.”

App State struggled with shooting from the field most in the second quarter by making just 3-of-15 shots from the field and the fourth quarter by making 3-of-13. UNCG failed to take advantage of App State’s chilly shooting by making 38.3 percent from the floor in the game, including 4-of-12 in the second quarter.

“This was a great win for our team,” Elderkin said. “We did not necessarily play our best, but for our team to be in a game like this and finish is really important for the growth of our basketball team.”

UNCG got 18 points from forward Aja Boyd, who also grabbed nine rebounds. Te’ja Twitty added 17 points and Soliman chipped in 15 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.

UNCG trailed 5-2 at the start of the game, but quickly took the lead and never trailed in the first half. App State didn’t retake the lead until a Gosnell basket with 5:20 left in the third quarter gave App State a 39-37 advantage.

The teams went into the fourth quarter tied 48-48. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game. Gosnell hit two free throws with 2:56 left in the game to start App State’s string of 10 straight and give the Mountaineers a 60-56 lead.

Appalachian State 68, UNC Greensboro 65

UNCG 65 (1-2)

Boyd 7-13 4-6 18, Twitty 7-16 3-3 17, Pitchford 1-7 5-6 7, Crudup 2-7 1-2 6, Soliman 5-13 4-6 15, Willey 0-2 0-0 0, Ngandjui 1-2 0-0 2, Yelverton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 17-23 65.

Appalachian State 68 (1-2)

Gosnell 3-7 8-8 14, Plummer 2-5 0-0 4, Stanley 3-9 6-6 13, Polacek 2-9 4-4 9, Story 2-11 7-7 11, Calder 3-6 0-3 6, Wilson 2-6 0-0 6, Mathews 1-3 0-0 3, Hampton 0-1 0-0 0, Jeffery 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-58 25-28 68.

UNCG 18 13 17 17 — 65

App State 16 12 20 20 — 68

3-point goals—UNCG 2-11 (Crudup 1-2, Soliman 1-5 Boyd 0-1, Pitchford 0-3), App State 5-24 (Wilson 2-4, Mathews 1-2, Stanley 1-3, Polacek 1-6, Hampton 0-1, Gosnell 0-3). Rebounds—UNCG 37 (Soliman 14), App State 44 (Story 7). Assists—UNCG 6 (Pitchford 3), App State 12 (Polacek 4). Turnovers—UNCG 15, App State 16. Total fouls—UNCG 21, App State 20. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None. Att.—254.

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