Appalachian State will look for an upset in their first road game of the season tonight versus Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers and the Hokies are both playing their second game of the season, as Appalachian dominated Lees-McRae while the Hokies fell at home to Old Dominion on Friday. The Hokies return four starters from a team that went 7-23 last season and finished tenth in the ACC. The Hokies were picked to finish eleventh this season while the Mountaineers were tabbed the preseason favorite in the Southern Conference.
The Hokie roster includes four seniors, highlighted by Alyssa Fenyn who has started 79 of her 91 career games. Fenyn led the team in assists last year with 88 while averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Aerial Wilson led the Hokies in minutes played last year, averaging 35 minutes a contest while averaging 12.1 points per game. Wilson scored two points in the season opener.
The Hokies and Mountaineers have had a few common opponents over the last couple years. Last year, the Hokies fell to NC State last year at home, while the Mountaineers defeated the Wolfpack in the WNIT in Raleigh. Both Appalachian and Virginia Tech lost to Virginia twice last year. Two seaons ago, Virginia Tech notched a seven point win over Elon, while the Mountaineers defeated Elon by an average of 23 points per game in three games. The Hokies also lost twice to Wake Forest two seasons ago, while the Mountaineers defeated the Deacons in Winston Salem.
A very physical game finished in heartbreaking fashion for the Mountaineers. Appalachian had the ball with a chance to tie on the game’s final possession and Raven Gary’s layup attempt rolled off the rim with just under five seconds remaining. Virginia Tech hit a free throw and intentionally missed the second free throw to provide the final margin.
Virginia Tech led the game early before the Mountaineers went on a 12-0 run midway through the first half to push their lead out to six points. The Hokies battled back slowly with three point shooting to draw within three points at halftime. The Mountaineers shot 52% in the first half along with hitting six of seven free throws. The Hokies did not get to the foul line in the first half.
The second half saw Virginia Tech run out to their biggest lead of the game at seven points just five minutes into the final frame. The Mountaineers forced Tech into several fouls as they slowly clawed back throughout the entire second half. Five Hokies finished with three fouls and another finished with four. Appalachian was brilliant from the free throw line in the second half, nailing fourteen of their sixteen attempts.
Appalachian could not find answer for Tech’s set plays. The Hokies did a great job of cutting to the baseline after dribbling out of the corner and finding an open shooter time and time again. Four Hokies finished in double figures with Alysssa Fenyn leading with 13 points. Monet Tellier netted 12 points, including a trio of three pointers. Conversely, the Hokies simply could not stop Anna Freeman, who finished with a career high 36 points, adding 8 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals. Freeman hit six of her eleven three points attempts, falling just one three pointer shy of tying a school record. Courtney Freeman added 11 points and nine rebounds.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Maryah Sydnor, who grew up in nearby Radford, Va. Sydnor was perhaps nervous playing in front of a swarm of friends and family which included members of her high school basketball team. Sydnor played twenty three minutes recording a steal and two points. On any other night, this Appalachian team would have handled Tech easily with better defense, and another scoring threat outside of the Freeman duo.
Disappointed in the loss to Va Tech. This is a team that was dusted by 20 at home to ODU and hadn’t won since January of last year. Anna Freeman had good game but this was an opportunity to beat another ACC team. Seems both ASU b-ball programs are looking for a D1 win.
It was an absolute heartbreaker. Should have had a chance for overtime. Tech kept hitting baseline jumpers and we could not rotate on defense.