Appalachian will face it second tough out of conference game of the season when it visits Xavier of the Atlantic 10 on Friday evening. Xavier is led by second year head coach Amy Waugh, who is a 2003 Xavier graduate. Waugh served as assistant for two years prior to be named head coach in 2011. She is Xavier’s sixth head coach in program history and the first alumnus named to the position.
Xavier only lists eleven players on their roster, over half which are made up of freshman and sophomores. Despite the short bench, Xavier plays everyone. Nine players have played in every game, while ten players have averaged at least 14 minutes a game. Not one player on their roster averages more than 32 minutes. Compare that to Appalachian, with thirteen players on their roster, with very similar underclassmen numbers, utilizes more of a seven player rotation, mostly of upperclassmen.
Xavier (3-2) has two players averaging double figures in Shatyra Hawkes (14.2) and Ashley Wanninger (10.0). Both Hawkes and Wanninger also lead the team in three pointers made with seven and eleven respectively. The two account for 75% of the team’s made three pointers. Lakeisha Crouch averages a respectable 7.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game while Jessica Pachko scores nine points a game while grabbing seven rebounds per contest. Those four players combine for 19 of Xavier’s 25 starts this season.
The Musketeers have played every game at home this season, with wins over RPI #119 Bucknell, RPI #287 Morehead State and RPI #282 High Point. Their losses are to top women’s teams in Michigan and Duke. Their opponents record who Xavier has beaten is 6-11, while their losses are to teams with a combined 10-2 record. According to realtimerpi.com, this game has been “scouted” as an Appalachian win.
The Mountaineers (4-1) come into the game with a three game winning streak, picking up wins over Campbell and Norfolk State at the ECU Invitational. As the season has progressed, Appalachian’s RPI has slowly crept into the top 100, as they are currently ranked #88. Appalachian is getting nearly 50% of their scoring from seniors Anna Freeman (21.0) and Courtney Freeman (16.4). The Freeman’s also account for over a third of the Mountaineers rebounds. As a team, Appalachian is forcing 25 turnovers a game, compared to Xavier who commits nearly 19 turnovers per game.
In a game where the Mountaineers dominated, Xavier continued to fight and force overtime in a thrilling game. The Musketeers were able to convert two four point plays in the second half. One occasion was on a traditional foul on a three point shooter who hit the basket, while the occured on a play where a Mountaineer tried to fight through a screen, at the same time Xavier hit a three.
Perhaps the most amazing statistic of the night occurred in overtime. Appalachian scored 17 points in the five minute extra period, and did so by only missing one a shot, a free throw. Appalachian hit all five field goal attempts, including two three pointers while knocking down five of six free throws.
Twenty-two fouls were called on Appalachian, and when that happens with a seven player rotation, foul trouble is going to become an issue. Maryah Sydnor fouled out with eight points and nine rebounds. Kelsey Sharkey finished with four fouls, four points and seven rebounds. Michelle Taylor and Farrahn Wood also finished with four fouls. Raven Gary did not play due to a foot injury, and her status for Monday’s game against Georgia Southern are unknown.
Anna Freeman led all scorers with 28 points and eight rebounds. Anna is now 22 points away from her 1500th career points. Courtney Freeman added 24 points and eight rebounds. We had hoped Courtney would score her 1,000th point at home against Gerogia Southern, and it is still possible. She is twenty four points short of the milestone.