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Appalachian State downs Georgia State in overtime Sun Belt matchup

The Appalachian State Mountaineers needed overtime on the road to hold off a furious rally by the Georgia State Panthers.

Brooke Bigott attempts a jump shot
Photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics via Twitter

ATLANTA — The Appalachian State Mountaineers held off their Sun Belt rival, the Georgia State Panthers, on the road in overtime 84-78 after nearly giving up a big lead on several occasions.

The Mountaineers led by as many as 13 points during the game away the lead in the fourth quarter. Thanks to timely shooting and stops, they still managed to escape with the victory. The providers of those timely shots were guards Michaela Porter and Janay Sanders, who had 21 and 20 points respectively.

The key for Appalachian State was their domination of the paint with 42 points and 49 rebounds, resulting in 48.4 percent shooting from the field. This win snaps the Mountaineers’ two-game losing streak and moves them up to 12-10 overall and 6-3 in the Sun Belt. Meanwhile Georgia State has now lost four games in a row, dropping down to 8-13 overall and 2-7 in the Sun Belt.

The two other double-digit scorers for Appalachian State were Faith Alston and Alexia Allesch, who each had 15 points. The Panthers were led by Deasia Merrill and Kamryn Dziak with 14 points apiece, while Ashley Foster chipped in 11.

The Mountaineers started out strong in the first quarter, shooting 53 percent from the floor and getting 10 points from Sanders. Georgia State, on the other hand, missed several open shots, many of them being close to the rim, shooting 29 percent from the floor.

After trailing 25-16 going into the second quarter, the Panthers went on a 17-10 run to cut the lead down to two and eventually went into halftime trailing 44-39. Both teams shot well in the quarter, with Georgia State shooting 53 percent and Appalachian State shooting 73 percent from the field, respectively.

Both teams went back and forth in the third quarter, with Merrill and Porter in particular going back and forth individually. Merrill tied the game at 47 and Porter was able to get a bucket a few possessions later to give her team back the lead.

The story for the Panthers was missed opportunities as Nyla Jean slipped and turned the ball over and Dziak had a three-point shot rattle out of the bucket at the buzzer, resulting in a 59-54 deficit at the end of the third.

In the fourth quarter, Georgia State managed to take the lead for the first time at 68-67 and led 71-67 with less than three minutes to go. Appalachian State then went on a 7-1 run to take a two-point lead with 10 seconds to go, but Foster made a bucket to force overtime.

In overtime, the Panthers took a 75-74 lead on a Foster free throw, but the Mountaineers, led by Porter’s six points, closed out the game on a 10-3 run, with the Georgia State again failing to take advantage of easy opportunities.

Up next for Appalachian State is a three-game homestand to end the regular season, all against conference opponents. Georgia State will finish out their season with a four-game Sun Belt road trip.