Appalachian State owned the paint, and kept Georgia Southern off balance as the Lady Mountaineers cruised to a 67-54 win Monday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
The Mountaineers knocked down 47.7 percent of their shots, scored 34 points in the paint and dominated the boards in the second half, pulling down 26 rebounds to GSU’s 15.
Starting ASU forwards combined for 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Georgia Southern shot just 20 of 59 from the floor.
Freshman point guard Alexis Sams was a bright spot for the Eagles, leading the team with 16 points and knocking down 4 of 7 3-pointers.
"The best thing about her is her mental toughness," GSU coach Chris Vozab said about the true freshman. "When she does something wrong, she does everything in her power to correct it. Today was really telling because early in the game I wasn’t happy. I thought she was a little tentative with the basketball. Not only that, but she had some foul trouble. She had her back against the wall a little bit. She responded. She’s like a sponge how coachable she is. I talked to her last week about not being set on some of her 3-pointers, and she just said, ‘OK coach, I’ve got it.’ The last two games, her feet have been set and you can see the results."
The Mountaineers (14-5, 8-3 Southern Conference) opened a window for the Eagles by getting into foul trouble early in the second half. They committed four fouls in the first 1.5 minutes, and GSU (4-17, 3-9) was shooting in the bonus with 13:02 remaining in the game.
The ASU fouls slowed down after that, however and the Mountaineers were able to extend a 12-point, halftime lead to 20.
The Eagles committed 10 of their 24 turnovers in the second half, and shot just 11 of 33 over the final 20 minutes.
Though undersized, the Eagles dominated the boards in the first half, out-rebounding the Mountaineers, 22-13, but Appalachian State evened the tally by the end of the game, finishing with a 39-37 advantage.
"We talked about a key to victory being winning the boards the whole game. I think it did kept us in it early," Vozab said. "Late in the first half and throughout the second half there were too many times where offensive rebounds gave them too many opportunities and wore us down with a new 30-second clock."
By the time it turned into a free-throw contest with 6:18 remaining, the Mountaineers were up, 55-33. It was ASU’s Courtney Freeman (15 points) who connected on 7 of 7 foul shots.
Early turnovers allowed the Mountaineers to pull ahead to an eight-point lead on two occasions in the early going of the first half, but the Eagles went on a 9-0 run to go ahead 11-10 on a 3-pointer by Sams and a jumper by Jordi Cook.
Appalachian State capitalized on three-straight GSU turnovers, but the Eagles tied it at 18-18 on another 3 by Sams.
The Eagles cooled off after that, and ASU ended the first half on a 17-5 run to take a 35-23 lead into the break.
A run of five-straight misses caused a 5:31 scoring lull for GSU, and by the time the Eagles scored again — a free throw by Danielle Spencer — App had broken away with a 29-19 lead.
Spencer scored 11 points and pulled in seven rebounds. Meredyth Frye added 12 points and eight rebounds and Anna Claire Knight finished with 10 points.
The Eagles are at home on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup with Charleston.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.