Appalachian State University women's basketball (12-10, 6-5 SBC) suffered a 72-65 decision to UT Arlington (18-5, 10-2 SBC) on Play4Kay Day inside the Holmes Center.
Madi Story (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) paced the offense with 18 points (12 in the second half) on 6-of-16 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers and a 4-of-5 showing from the line. Facing one of, if not the tallest lineup in the Sun Belt with five players of 6'1 or taller, Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) was impressive with her third straight double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Plummer was 6-of-10 in the contest, while she went for 8 points and 11 rebounds in the second half alone.
The Mountaineers clawed back from an eight-point deficit early in the third period to close the gap to just one possession at the end of the quarter, 49-47. Trailing 47-41, with 3:07 left in the frame, Story scored the final six points during a 6-2 surge highlighted by a runner at the buzzer.
App went into the final frame with momentum, but UTA scored on back-to-back possessions to go up by six points, 53-47. The Mavs went up by eight (59-51) moments later before Tierra Wilson (Winston-Salem, N.C./RJ Reynolds) came off the bench for her only 3-pointer to slice the lead down to five, 59-54. However, Claire Chastain was left open for a trifecta of her own on the following possession.
UTA stayed in front for the rest of the period. The Mountaineers cut the Mav advantage down to five once more when Ashley Polacek (Ottawa, Canada/UCF) hit a 3-pointer, 65-60.
That was the closest the Black and Gold would get to the visitors, as two scores on consecutive trips helped UTA pull away.
App State got off to a slow start with the Mavericks starting out with a 7-2 lead. UTA went up 16-9 late in the first quarter before Plummer hit a layup in the paint off a nice pass from Wilson.
Three straight points by Maya Calder (Landover, Md./National Christian Academy) to start the second period brought the lead down to just one possession, 16-14. UTA responded by going on an 8-2 run that extended the lead to 24-16.
Story canned a 3-pointer that cut the lead to five, capping off a stretch in which App went 5-for-6. The defense during the stretch couldn't get the stops it needed to while UTA hit its next five shots. The Mavericks eventually pushed the lead to 10 points, 33-23, which was the largest lead for UTA.
App battled back with a 6-0 spurt thanks to a perfect pass by Brooke Bigott (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes) to Lainey Gosnell (Demorest, Ga./Habersham Central) for a 3-pointer. Wilson added three foul shots to dwindle the UTA favor to four, 33-29.
Bigott answered Cierra Johnson's free throws with a pair of her own that made the lead to four once again, 35-31. Johnson ended the half with a buzzer-beater to give her team a 38-31 lead going into the break.
Appalachian bested UTA on the boards, 37-31, including a 16-5 advantage on the offensive end. In addition, App posted 16 second-chance points to UTA's two and held a 30-24 favor in the paint. The bench also outscored UTA's reserves, 17-15. However, UTA shot 51.9 percent from the floor and made momentum-stopping shots when it looked like App State was preparing for a run.
Johnson led UTA with 19 points and Chastain finished the evening with 17 points.
Appalachian now has a tough three-game road trip coming up. The Mountaineers will have Thursday off before they face Coastal Carolina next Saturday at 2 p.m. in Conway.