This game is just about as big as it gets for the Appalachian Women. This game has enough story lines that we might just leave something out. First place Chattanooga (15-3, 8-1) and third place Appalachian (12-3, 6-1) will battle for supremacy in the SoCon this evening. All of the other SoCon games will have tipped off before App and Chattanooga play, so this game may very well be for first place when the night is over with. Both teams have suffered only one SoCon loss, Chattanooga to a quicker Elon team, and Appalachian to a bigger Davidson team. Both teams have defeated teams from higher rated conferences on the road, and tonight will mark the first time Appalachian will play on the same court as ex-Mountaineer Ashlen Dewart since the 2011 SoCon Championship game, where Dewart conveniently missed two free throws that would have given Appalachian the championship.
Chattanooga began thir season with a surprising win over Tennessee. The Volunteers are to Chattanooga as UNC-Chapel Hill is the to the Mountaineers. Their nemesis from the ‘big city” who wears a color that dominates the state. Since, Chattanooga, has lost only on the road, to St. Mary’s, Auburn, and Elon in overtime. The Mocs are perfect at home.
Star center Faith Dupree was injured early in the season, which gave way for Ashlen Dewart to shine while Dupree was sidelined for nearly three months. Dewart transferred from Appalachian after her sophomore season, and is in the same recruiting class as Anna Freeman, Kelsey Sharkey and Courtney Freeman. Story says she was asked by Darcie Vincent to drop some weight. She refused, and transferred to Chattanooga to play with her sister on a whim. Dewart is the team’s leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, but is not nearly as dominant as her numbers would suggest. She is a tempo player, and simply cannot run with Appalachian’s pressing style of play. Dewart averages 24.2 minutes played per game and can be clumsy at times, as she leads the team in fouls and turnovers. To put it simply she can be beaten easily. I am sure Appalachian has circled this game on their calendar for awhile, not just because of the impact it will have on the conference standings, but because of how Dewart left. You just don’t leave Appalachian and get away with it. I can guarantee, no matter the result, Anna Freeman will have the last word in this rivalry before the season is over.
The Mocs play a frusturating style of offense. Their three pointers need to be falling for them to be successful. Coach Wes Moore may think he can pound the ball inside the post with Dewart and Dupree, who are both similarly sized women, and open up the long ball, but Appalachian plays some of the best defense in the conference. As soon as Dupree or Dewart put the ball on the floor, Appalachian will double down and force mayhem for the Mocs on offense. This will be a great game to watch, and it should be available for free at gomocs.com.
This game stunk for so many reasons. First off, listening to Chattanooga’s play by play broadcaster was atrocious. He called out officials by their name, Told to stick their whistles where the sun does not shine, and made sexist comments that suggested male officials do not know how to officiate the women’s game. How he still has a job is beyond me. Secondly, Chattanooga won this game how they always do, by hitting their three pointers. Get them out of their gym, and the story is different and always has been. Chattanooga did not shoot a great percentage from three, but did hit seven of them. The difference, Appalachian was 0/9 from behind the arc.
Ashlen Dewart had a huge double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, but did not score in the second half. Taylor Hall also had a big double-double for the Mocs with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The rebounds were also another big story of the game. Chattanooga secured sixteen offensive rebounds in the game. Appalachian managed three double digit scorers, but neither was Anna Freeman, who only scored eight points.
These two teams are very close to each other in talent, and it all comes down to who hits the clutch shots. Chattanooga won this time around, but the Mocs will have to visit Appalachian in a month on senior day. Appalachian has now lost both conference games on the road that we considered big games. Davidson at the beginning of the month, and Chattanooga with Samford looming on Monday night. Appalachian really needs to steal one on Monday before returning home next weekend. The top five schools in conference play have separated themselves in the conference race. Appalachian has Samford on Monday and Elon at home next Saturday.
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