The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author.
The Mountaineers played three games in the past week and the roller coaster ride continues.
Last Thursday the Apps traveled to Elon to play the division leading Phoenix, who were playing without their best low-post presence, Lucas Troutman. The Mountaineers led for some part of the first half but found themselves in the locker room with a 31-26 deficit. The 2nd half saw the Apps fight back and take the lead down the stretch. Jamaal Trice hit two free throws to give App State a 58-55 advantage with 1:11 left. Like all leads this year though, it wasn’t safe. Elon’s Ryley Beaumont hit two free throws to make it a one point game again with 58 seconds left. The Apps turned the ball over, and before you know it Elon was at the line shooting two shots, again. Sebastion Koch gave the Phoenix a 59-58 lead with 5 seconds left. After a quick turnover and two more free throws by Elon, the buzzer sounded and Elon defeated the Apps 61-58. A lot of people were expecting the Mountaineers to lose anyway, but had they won it would have been a solid win and could have helped give them a leg up in the race for the 4th seed and a first round bye in the SoCon Tournament. Jay Canty led the Apps with 17 points and 9 rebounds while Nathan Healy added 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The Mountaineers got an extra day of rest for a rare Sunday game against UNC-Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum. When UNCG came to Boone the game got really chippy towards the end and that carried over into this past weekend, resulting in mouthing back and forth and a technical for Nathan Healy, although his was just frustration with the refs. Four of the Apps starting five were playing a “homecoming” game, with Neal, Hamilton, Canty, and Obacha all playing their high school ball in the triad area. The Mountaineers jumped out to a quick start and led early on by 12 points a few times, but the Spartans came back and the Apps led 32-30 going into the intermission. The 2nd half was back and forth until the last 8 minutes. The Mountaineers stretch their lead to 8 and it stayed there for the rest of the way, only getting down to 6 once. The Mountaineers held on for a 76-68 victory and swept the season series with the Spartans.
Things were looking up for the Apps. Our guys entered the last 3 games of the year, all at home against very winnable opponents, in an interesting race for the last bye in Asheville. No game is easy anymore, but the easiest of the three seemed to be The Citadel. The Bulldogs entered play dead last in all of the SoCon and it looked as if it could be a tune-up heading into a week off before Samford and Chattanooga come to town. The Apps started quick and forced a quick Citadel timeout when it was 10-5, but that was the only sign of life out of the black and gold all night. The Citadel outplayed the Mountaineers the rest of the game. The Bulldogs held a 64-59 advantage, but a few huge buckets by Tab Hamilton gave the Mountaineers the lead at 68-64 with under a minute remaining. However, the Bulldogs would tie it up and miss a half court shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 74-70 lead but a few buckets by Mike Neal knotted the score up again. The Apps were down 78-77 and had one of their 18 turnovers of the night but got another chance when the Citadel inbounder ran the baseline on the ensuing inbounds pass. Another turnover and two Citadel free throws gave the Citadel an 80-77 lead with 4.6 seconds left. Neal drove the length of the court and got a good look from 22 feet but his game-tying shot attempt hit the front rim and sent the Mountaineer faithful home with one of the worst losses, RPI wise, ever. Such a head-scratcher.
At least the Mountaineers made the SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays, and this time it was the right Top Ten. Tevin Baskin rebounded a Mike Grosselle miss with 3 seconds left in the first half and turned around and threw it like a baseball. Almost 80 feet later, the ball hit the backboard and sunk through, and woke the crowd up again. It was one of the coolest shots you’ll ever see in basketball, and it was good enough for #3 on SportsCenter’s Top Ten.
Now the Mountaineers have a week off to prepare for their final two games of the regular season. Samford and Chattanooga come up the mountain next Thursday and Saturday for two games that would be nice to get pay back for. Since there’s no action on top of the mountain for the next week let’s take a look around the league, with a few teams playing in ESPN’s BracketBuster series…
Thursday, February 21
UNC-Greensboro @ Chattanooga, 7:00 Wofford @ Georgia Southern, 7:00 Elon @ Samford, 8:00
Saturday, February 23
Coastal Carolina @ Western Carolina, 2:00 Montana @ Davidson, 3:00, ESPNU Gardner-Webb @ Charleston, 4:00 Furman @ Georgia Southern, 7:00 Elon @ Chattanooga, 7:30, ESPN3 The Citadel @ Presbyterian, 7:45 UNC-Greensboro @ Samford, 8:00
SOCON INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Trevis Simpson, UNCG, 19.4 Trey Sumler, WCU, 18.4 Karl Cochran, WOF, 15.7
–FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE
Mike Grosselle, CIT, 57% Lucas Troutman, ELON, 55% Tim Williams, SAM, 54%
Marshall Harris III, CIT, 5.2 Raijon Kelly, SAM, 4.6 Stephen Croone, FUR, 4.1
Adjehi Baru, C of C, 8.6 Nathan Healy, APP, 7.6 Mike Grosselle, 7.5
Lucas Troutman, ELON, 2.2 Jake Cohen, DAV, 1.8 Nathan Healy, APP, 1.4
Karl Cochran, WOF, 2.1 Trey Sumler, WCU, 2.1 Nathan Healy, APP, 1.9
-Stats and Standings courtesy of ESPN.com
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