MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team came away with a 72-67 win over Appalachian State, Friday, in its final non-conference game of the season.
The Mountaineers (8-3) stretched a 13-point halftime lead to 21 points early in the second half, but the Appalachian State Mountaineers (7-2) never gave up, going on a 35-14 run down to the 2:37 mark to tie the game at 65-65.
Junior Christal Caldwell hit a 3-pointer with just over two minutes left in the game and App State’s Maryah Sydnor was fouled going up for a rebound with 1:24 left. Sydnor converted both free throw attempts, making it a one-point game at 68-67. Appalachian State was unable to convert four consecutive jumper attempts before senior Ayana Dunning stole the ball to gain possession and was fouled. Dunning converted the attempts for a 3-point lead and when App State was forced to foul to buy time, sophomore Averee Fields secured the win by converting a pair of attempts from the line.
“I thought Christal Caldwell played well. She stepped up and hit a big three when the score was tied there,” coach Mike Carey said. “I thought the first half we played with a lot of energy and I was happy with our energy. The first four minutes of the second half we played hard and then we stood around. Give them credit. They kept playing hard and got back in the game.”
Caldwell led WVU in scoring for the fourth time this season as she had a season-best 22 points, including 5-of-6 from the free throw line. Fields was the Mountaineers’ leading rebounder for the third time this season, while also adding in a career-best 18 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. Dunning co-led with Fields on the boards with seven of her own to go along with 14 points. Sophomore Linda Stepney was responsible for getting the ball in the right hands as she recorded a career-best 10 assists and grabbed two steals.
Appalachian State was led by season scoring leader Anna Freeman with 25 points, followed by Sydnor with 19 points and Katie Mallow with 13 points. WVU had the advantage on the boards, out-rebounding App State 39-27.
Both teams were comparable in shooting with WVU shooting 47.1 percent (24-51) from the field and App State shooting 42.4 percent (25-59). WVU had the advantage from the free throw line with 20-of-26 (76.9%), while App State converted 80 percent (12-of-15). West Virginia lost the turnover battle, committing 26 turnovers to Appalachian State’s 20.
The Mountaineers will open conference play with their first Big 12 game of the season at Oklahoma on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.