Lady Chants’ season ends in Sun Belt tourney opener

ccuwhoops-GibsonNo. 8 Coastal Carolina fell 79-58 to No. 9 Appalachian State Tuesday morning in the first round of the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Women’s Basketball Championship at Lakefront Arena.

Coastal closes the 2016-17 season with a 13-16 overall record, while App State (12-18) advances to the conference’s quarterfinal round where it will face top-seeded Little Rock, the Sun Belt’s regular season champions.

The Chants had swept App State in the regular season with a pair of victories, each win featuring a second-half rally after Coastal trailed by double figures. The Mountaineers denied a third second-half comeback on Tuesday, taking a 47-32 lead at halftime and going ahead by as many as 22 points over the game’s final 20 minutes.

Rachael Gregory led all players in scoring and rebounding with 25 points and 13 boards to record her fifth double-double of the season. It was the graduate student’s career high scoring effort in her final game in a Chanticleer uniform, and her second 20-plus point performance this season, following her previous high of 21 at Marshall on Nov. 19.

No other Chanticleer players scored in double figures, however, and Gregory’s offensive output was nearly matched by the 24 points of App State’s Madi Story. Q. Murray (13 points), Ashley Bassett-Smith (13 points), Joi Jones (11 points) and Bayley Plummer (10 points) also had double-digit scoring performances for the Mountaineers.

App State was efficient from the floor throughout the game, shooting just under 50 percent for the day and dipping under 40 percent only in the third quarter. Coastal shot 27 percent from the field for the game.

App had taken its first double-figure lead of the day by the two-minute mark of the first quarter, but after Alexis Robinson’s layup to open the second quarter of play, App led by just seven points. The Mountaineers then scored 10 straight points in a two-minute span to effectively put the game out of reach, as Coastal managed to bring the margin back to single digits just once before the end of the first half. Six straight points before the break allowed App to take a 15-point cushion into the locker room.

Gregory had done the majority of her scoring in the first half, hitting six shots from the floor, including two from beyond the arc, to total 14 points. Her 11 points in the second half were outdone by the 15 second-half points of Story, who closed the game 7-of-16 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the line.

App State led the game from start to finish, scoring the contest’s first four points and never relinquishing its advantage.

Coastal finished its inaugural season in the Sun Belt in eighth place with an 8-10 conference record.

Photo courtesy of Sun Belt Conference

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