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Harris is perfect from ‘downtown’, with Sanders and Carver leads App State WBB to Sun Belt tourney quarterfinals

By David Rogers. PENSACOLA, Fla. — It started as a near rout and ended that way. In between, the second round matchup of No. 10 seeded Appalachian State and No. 7 Louisiana was a see-saw, defensive battle. Strong offensive production by the Mountaineers at the beginning and end, though, led to a convincing, 51-38 upset victory.

The Mountaineers’ offensive production throughout was reasonably balanced, with four players over or near double figures, scoring. Janay Sanders and Emily Carver tied for team-high and game-high scoring honors, while Chae Harris leveraged 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc to record an 11-point contribution in coming off the bench. With 8 points, Faith Alston was close behind in the scoring column. Alston made her presence felt in other ways, too, including a team-high 8 rebounds, team-high 3 assists, and threw in a steal for good measure.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, but the Ragin’ Cajuns even more so in facing App State’s troublesome zone defense. The Mountaineers led 13-4 at the end of the first quarter.

Overlapping the quarter break, Louisiana went more than seven minutes in the first half without scoring another point, once they reached four. Ultimately, though, the Ragin’ Cajuns outpointed the Mountaineers, 10-8 in the second period to close the early deficit, but only by a little bit.

There were times in the first half when it appeared the Mountaineers and Ragin’ Cajuns were trying to outdo each other in who could run in transition the fastest — without scoring. Eventually, things settled down to a more comfortable pace.

Neither team was particularly effective from behind the 3-point arc other than Harris’ 3-for-3 shooting from 3-point land. Harris had half of App State’s six successful 3-point tries in 22 attempts, while Louisiana was just 1-for-13 from long distance — and that was a dramatic, desperation heave from half court by Destiny Rice as the first half buzzer was sounding. From the middle of the floor, the ball bounced off the glass and dropped cleanly through the net, shrinking the halftime gap from 10 points to 7 in the blink of an eye.

After halftime, the Mountaineers never lost command of the game. They edged the Louisiana bunch in the third quarter, 15-14, then outpointed them 15-10 in the final period to put the game away.

Lousiana’s Lanay Wheaton tied for game-high scoring honors with 12, while teammate Tamara Johnson pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and poached a pair of steals.

With the upset win, App State advances to the quarterfinal round to face No. 2 seed, Texas State. That game will be played at the Pensacola Bay Center on Friday, March 3, 8:30 p.m Eastern Standard Time and televised on ESPN+.

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