Appalachian State women's basketball (1-7) suffered a 56-43 decision to North Carolina (6-2) in a defensive battle on Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena.
The Mountaineers' near flawless defense was their best performance on that end this season, holding the Tar Heels to a season-worst in points. UNC came into the game averaging 82.9 points per game, which was 24th in the nation, while it shot a season-low 29.8 percent from the floor. UNC came into today's contest shooting 49.1 percent from the field for the season, the 13th highest in the country.
UNC did outscore Appalachian 14-1 from the free throw line and 24-12 from 3-point land.
All eight players who came into the game scored with LaPresha Stanley (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge) posting a team-high nine points. The freshman added career-highs in rebounds (8) and assists (6) to cap off a solid all-around performance. Nicola Mathews (Adelaide, Australia/College of Central Florida) scored eight points with a pair of trifectas, and Maya Calder (Landover, Md./National Christian Academy) turned in her best game of the season with a personal-high eight points and six rebounds. Calder paced an App State bench unit that outscored the Tar Heels' reserves, 15-3.
Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) dominated the glass with a game-high 15 rebounds while playing stellar defense against one of the top freshmen in the ACC in Janelle Bailey, who came into the game leading the team in shooting percentage at 57.5 percent and came off a 25-point, 13-rebound performance in their last outing. Bailey was held to just 1-of-10 from the floor with three turnovers. The sophomore for App played an integral part in the Tar Heels scoring only six points in the paint.
Mathews started the game with a corner trifecta that gave App a 3-0 lead before UNC pieced together an 8-0 run to take a five-point lead. Appalachian responded by eventually tying up the game in the opening frame, 12-12 when Wilson came up with a steal and fed Calder in transition with a nice layup to complete the fastbreak. Paris Kea came back on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer to give the hosts a 15-12 edge going into the second period.
The Tar Heels delivered their punch in the opening minutes of the second quarter as they went up by 10 (22-12) with 7:29 left in the frame. However, the Black and Gold showed some grit as they answered with a 14-2 run over the next 5:22 to capture a 26-24 advantage. Tierra Wilson (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds) and Stanley sparked the surge with four straight buckets while Appalachian shot 60 percent (6-of-10) from the floor during the stretch capped off by a Stanley 3-pointer that swung the momentum entirely in App's favor.
Jamie Cherry's 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the opening half gave UNC the 27-26 lead going into the break. App's defense held UNC to 2-for-11 over the last 7:49 of the stanza including a scoring drought of 3:55 during the comeback. The 27 points scored in the first half by UNC is the lowest in any half this season.
App and UNC didn't score for the first 3:13 of the third period until Taylor Koenen pushed the Tar Heels to a 29-26 edge. Appalachian wasn't going away as a free throw from Plummer followed by Mathews having a hand in back-to-back field goals with a jumper and an assist to Calder pushed Appalachian in front, 33-31. But the Heels ended the quarter on a 7-0 run that carried over into the final quarter while holding App to a 4:29 scoreless stretch that helped UNC take a 39-33 lead. Calder's field goal brought Appalachian to within four points, but UNC would slowly pull away with a 9-2 spurt and eventually claimed the win.
Kea (20 points) and Cherry (17 points) did the damage for UNC with a combined 37 points on 12-for-27 shooting from the field (Rest of team: 5-for-30).
For the Mountaineers, it was a promising effort that will surely give them confidence, especially after posting a 46-42 edge on the glass and corralling 16 offensive rebounds. App State held an 18-6 advantage in points in the paint and an 11-7 output in second-chance points, while turning the ball over a season-low 17 times.
App State returns to action for a second straight matchup versus an ACC opponent in Wake Forest on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Winston-Salem.