Apparently, the three-knockdown rule applies to women’s basketball as it does to boxing.
Twice, East Tennessee State got off the canvas against Applachian State on Tuesday night. The third time, however, Appalachian State delivered a crushing 36-5 run in an 85-57 win at Brooks Gym.
ETSU head coach Karen Kemp didn’t mince words afterwards.
“I’m really, really disappointed in our effort the last 10 minutes of the ballgame,” Kemp said as the Lady Bucs fell to 2-4. “We were right there, and we even had the lead with 13 minutes to go. They went on a run, and it was like we gave up.
“We played hard and played with a lot of heart, but once we got down by about 10 or 12, we were like that’s it. We’ve got to have 40 minutes from everybody and we just didn’t have that.”
It was a surprising end after the way the Lady Bucs battled the first two-thirds of the contest.
After the Lady Mountaineers scored 11 straight points to race out to a 24-11 lead, the Lady Bucs fought back to trail just 40-36 at the half.
ETSU finally evened the score on Destiny Mitchell’s basket at 16:17 of the second half, only to see App State score seven points in a span of one minute and two seconds to go up 49-42.
The Lady Bucs responded with eight straight of their own with Maria Bond’s layup at the 13-minute mark giving them a first lead in the game.
However, that’s when Appalachian State (7-1) turned up the pressure and the bottom fell out for the Lady Bucs.
The Lady Mountaineers scored 10 straight points, and after a free throw by ETSU’s Tiana Burley, then outscored the Lady Bucs 25-4 over the next seven minutes, including a stretch of 15 unanswered points.
The numbers clearly highlighted the Lady Mountaineers’ hustle. They ended with a 47-34 rebounding advantage, and outscored the Lady Bucs 38-20 in points off turnovers. In addition, they had more second-chance points, more fast-break points, and on defense, limited ETSU to just 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) from the field in the second half.
“We believe strongly in the press,” Appalachian State coach Darcie Vincent said. “I was shooter once and I know when you have to play basketball outside of just shooting, your legs go tired on you. Then, you get frustrated and force those bad shots, and it allows us to run on the other side.
“I’m a firm believer, you keep pressing and pressing and at that 30-minute mark, teams are defined by that moment. They got a little fatigued on us, were missing shots and using a lot of energy. We did a decent job of boxing out and getting a lot of those cherry-pick layups.”
Burley was the lone bright spot for the Lady Bucs. Seeing her first action of the season, the 6-foot-3 redshirt sophomore had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Working the post, she was 6 of 8 from the floor and hit 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Still, she was ever bit as disappointed as her coach with the outcome.
“We have to work harder than we did tonight,” Burley said. “We didn’t finish the way we planned on finishing. We quit when we got down. We have to pull it together as a team.”
There were no other Lady Bucs in double figures and they managed just 27 points from the perimeter, going 0-for-14 from 3-point range.
On the flip side, the Lady Mountaineers had four in double figures led by Maryah Syndor with 23 points. Courtney Freeman and Katie Mallow each posted 16 points, while Anna Freeman came through with 13 points.
After Tuesday’s humbling defeat, the Lady Bucs face more challenges over the next couple of weeks, They play at Iowa State on Thursday and then at North Carolina on Dec. 28 before starting Atlantic Sun Conference play.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us,” Kemp said. “We get on the bus in the morning and head down to Atlanta to fly out. Iowa State’s out of the top 25 right now, but they had been in the top 25 all year. That’s going to be a tough task for us. But if we play hard and I do my job as a coach getting all of them to come together, we can be a pretty good basketball team.”