WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Junior forward Anna Freeman led five players in double figures with 16 points as Appalachian State pulled away from UNCW late to earn the win, 79-73, in a Women's National Invitational Tournament first round matchup Thursday at Trask Coliseum.
The Mountaineers improved to 26-6 and advanced to play N.C. State in the second round of the WNIT on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Reynolds Coliseum. The Seahawks' season came to a close with the loss at 20-13 after notching their second consecutive 20-win season for the first time in school history.
Freshman guard Katie Mallow tallied 13 points for ASU, while junior guard Courtney Freeman and senior guard Chakeitha Weldon added 10 markers apiece. Junior forward Kelsey Sharkey came off the bench to contribute a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Mountaineers, who shot 52.5 percent from the floor.
Sophomore guard Abria Trice paced UNCW offensively, scoring a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbing a team-high seven boards. Junior forward Karneshia Garrett racked up 15 markers and junior guard Tawanna Lee scored 14 points.
With the score tied at 67-apiece and 3:37 remaining, two free throws by Anna Freeman sparked a 7-1 run which Weldon capped with 56 seconds remaining to give ASU a 74-68 advantage.
Sophomore guard Alisha Andrews then hit a trey at the 41-second mark to trim the lead to three, 74-71, but the Mountaineers got four free throws and a fast break layup from Sharkey in the final seconds to keep the Seahawks at bay.
UNCW missed its first four field goal attempts to start the contest, allowing ASU to grab an early 8-2 lead off a layup from freshman forward Maryah Syndor at the 16:47 mark.
Jessica Freeman sparked the Seahawks to life, notching UNCW's first two field goals on back-to-back possessions to cut the Mountaineers' advantage to 8-6 with 16:07 left.
After a trey from Mallow, the Seahawks rattled off a 10-2 run to take a 16-13 lead off a fast break bucket from Trice for two of her 16 first half points at the 12:13 mark.
The teams battled back-and-forth for the next seven minutes, with five ties and four lead changes occurring in the span as both squads looked to pull away.
With 3:53 left in the half and the score knotted at 27-all, Trice drained a trey to key a 13-4 run that gave UNCW its largest lead of the game, 40-31, when Trice capped the spurt with 1:01 remaining. A three-pointer by ASU junior guard Raven Gary with 36 seconds left concluded the first half scoring as the Seahawks held a 40-34 halftime lead.
UNCW still led by eight points, 48-40, with 17:33 left to play, but ASU climbed back into the contest with a 15-3 run spanning the next 5:31. Weldon capped the rally at the 12:02 mark with a fast break lay-in, putting the Mountaineers in front, 55-51.
The Seahawks battled back, eventually tying the game at 67-all with 3:52 remaining on a basket from junior forward Ayoola Weaver, but ASU pulled away down the stretch to advance.
UNCW moved to 1-5 all-time against Appalachian
State as the two sides met for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
The Seahawks slipped to 1-2 overall and 0-2 at
home in the Postseason WNIT. UNCW also moved to 1-1 all-time in the first round
of the 64-team event.
UNCW dropped to 15-2 this season and 33-5 under
Cooper-Dyke when shooting above 40 percent from the floor. The Seahawks were
27-of-56 (48.2) from the field for the contest. UNCW's only other loss this
season when shooting above 40 percent from the floor game in a 79-60 loss to
Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 11 at the Lady Lion Classic (Shot .444
(28-of-63) against the Blue Raiders).
The Seahawks moved to 10-1 this season and 23-2
under Cooper-Dyke when scoring more than 70 points in a contest. UNCW's last
loss when reaching the 70-point plateau was a 79-77 setback at James Madison on
March 2, 2011.
The contest featured a total of 11 ties and 10
lead changes. There were five ties and five lead changes in the second half.
Appalachian State held a 48-34 advantage in
points in the paint, including a 24-16 edge in the second half.
UNCW moved to 15-2 this season and 33-5 when
holding a lead at the halftime. The only other Seahawks loss this season when
holding a halftime edge came in their 72-60 loss to Washington State at the
Lady Lion Classic on Nov. 13 (led 33-30 at the half).
The Seahawks reached double figures in assists
for the 30th time this season as it handed out 19 assists against the
UNCW posted double figure steals for the 19th
time this season as it posted 15 thefts against Appalachian State.
The Seahawks shot below 60 percent at the
free-throw line for the eighth time this season and moved to 3-5 when doing so.
Matched program mark for games started and
played in a single season with 33.
Led team in assists for the 21st time this
season and the 45th time in her career.
Finished season in second place on program's
single-season list for three-pointers made (61) and fourth on the single-season
assists chart (158).
Moved into fourth place on the program's career
steals list with 186 career thefts. Posted six steals against the Mountaineers
to finish season in fifth place on program's single-season steals chart (88).