Appalachian travelled to Elon on Sunday afternoon in preparation for a Monday night game that will help decide seeding in the SoCon Tournament. Appalachian is one win in front of Elon in the current standings, and will be looking to sweep the Phoenix. Having the tiebreaker over Elon would be huge as Appalachian will now play four games in eight days after their game with UNC-Greensboro on Saturday was moved as the Spartans players and coaches suffered from food poisoning.
Appalachian stifled Elon in their first game of the season. The Mountaineers cruised to an eighteen point win back on February 2nd. Appalachian employed an interesting strategy on Elon star Ali Ford, who eventually fouled out of the game. Ford will need to stay on the court in order to pull the upset on Appalachian. The Mountaineers have played very well recently, focusing more on an inside game and shying away from shooting from the perimeter. The Mountaineer defense has also played well recently. Elon has a lot of height on their roster, but they are all sticks, and lack any real skill and bulk on the interior. Elon is 10-2 this season at home compared to Appalachian who is 7-5 on the road this season.
Elon flexed their muscle with massive runs in each half that Appalachianwas not able to overcome. The Mountaineers had been doubled up in the first half after going down 26-13 on the backs of Elon’s three point shooting. The Mountaineers rallied to cut Elon’s lead at halftime to six points. Appalachian and Elon traded baskets in the second half, with Applachian cutting the lead to one on two different occasions before Elon went on another run. Appalachian saw foul trouble from the only player who was bringing anything on offense when Maryah Sydnor picked up her fourth foul. From there, Elon continued to share the basketball, finding open players for easy baskets while the Mountaineers turned the ball over time after time.
Anna Freeman may have had her worst game in years. She scored three points and only made one basket and recoreded a season low in field goal attempts. She failed to record a block shot or steal for the first time all season long. Luckily Maryah Sydnor showed up, but unfortunately, no other Mountaineer did. Sydnor scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds, but the pressure of being the only contributor got to her as she committed seven turnovers. Courtney Freeman scored thirteen points but committed five turnovers of her own.
As we catch our breath, and step back and assess the situation, Appalachian can still finish third in the regular season. Currently Appalachian and Elon are tied in the conference standings with 12 conference wins, although Elon has one more loss than Appalachian. If Appalachian and Elon tie in the conference standings, tiebreaker goes to the top of the standings and the team record against first place and on down until the tie is broken. Luckily, for Appalachian, Chattanooga clinched the regular season tonight by beating Davidson and has nothing left to play for until the tournament. Appalachian will play Chattanooga on Saturday and can hopefully steal a win from the Mocs. Appalachian will play their makeup game from last Saturday on Wednesday afternoon, and a win over the Spartans is highly in need based on tonight’s poor performance.