ASU's stretch run
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Nathan Healy’s senior season continues to get better as it goes along.
Healy led Appalachian State to a 74-65 victory over Western Carolina in front of 2,852 fans at the Holmes Center.
Healy finished with 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He also made 4-of-5 3-point shots and 4-of-6 from the foul line.
That was only part of his game. Healy added eight rebounds and seven steals in 39 minutes of playing time.
Jay Canty added 19 points and eight rebounds. Canty also had five assists. Healy averages 14.6 points per game, while Canty scores at a 14.5 clip.
Appalachian State (9-12, 5-5 SoCon) held Western Carolina (8-14, 5-5) to 39.3 percent shooting in taking a 41-29 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out with a great mindset and I thought we set the tone on the defensive end,” Mountaineers coach Jason Capel said. “I thought we made them uncomfortable and took them out of their flow in the first half.”
The Mountaineers will try to do that again in their showdown Thursday at Georgia Southern. They face a difficult part of their schedule that includes four road trips in their next five games — all of them in the Southern Conference. They start at Georgia Southern and follow Saturday with a trip to SoCon power Davidson.
ASU returns home to face Furman on Feb. 11 before returning to the road for North Division showdowns at Elon and UNC Greensboro.
The Mountaineers can help themselves when they close out the season with three home games, two against North Division rivals Samford and Chattanooga.
Appalachian State is battling for one of the four first-round byes into the Southern Conference Tournament. Elon improved to 8-2 league record in the North Division and Davidson seems like it’s on its way to a South Division title with a 10-1 record. College of Charleston is second in the South with an 8-3 league mark.
That leaves one bye position open, which is up for grabs. Samford (5-4 SoCon), ASU, Western, UNCG (4-6), Georgia Southern (4-6), Chattanooga (3-6) and Furman (3-6) are the closest teams to that fourth bye.
The next step for the Mountaineers is finding a way to beat Georgia Southern, a team they beat 64-62 in overtime on Jan. 24. Appalachian State held a 17-point lead only to see the Eagles charge back. Healy led the Mountaineers with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
The win broke a two-game losing streak at the hands of Chattanooga and Samford. ASU held a 19-point lead on Chattanooga, but could not hang on for the win.
Appalachian State avoided a repeat of that Saturday after taking a 14-point lead in the first half. The Mountaineers took a 56-45 lead in the second half, but saw the Catamounts close to 63-58.
“We came out in the second half a little lackadaisical and App was ready to go,” Western Carolina guard Trey Sumler said. “They executed pretty good. In the second half, we picked it up pretty good.”
It was 68-65 when the Mountaineers got a steal from Healy and two foul shots from Canty. ASU got a defensive stop, and Healy got a breakaway dunk with 20 seconds left in the game to put the Mountaineers in front 72-65.
Another stop followed by two Healy foul shots with 9.4 seconds left sealed the win.
“One of these days, it would be nice to take a 10 point lead and make it 20,” Healy said. “I guess we’ve got to give the fans something to come back to, but it’s frustrating sometimes. At the same time, good teams are going to make a run at you at some point.”
Appalachian State 74, Western Carolina 65
Western Carolina (8-14, 5-5)
Tankelewicz 2-7 0-0 5, King 4-8 1-2 9, Sumler 6-16 8-11 21, Boggs 2-7 0-0 5, Sinclair 7-11 2-2 17, Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Harrelson 0-1 0-0 0, Brummitt 1-2 0-0 2, Mendenhall 0-0 0-0 0, Ross 1-3 4-4 6. Totals 23-56 15-19 65
Appalachian State (9-12, 5-5)
Obacha 1-3 0-3 2, Healy 8-11 7-9 19, Hamilton 3-7 0-0 8, Neal 1-4 2-2 4, Baskin 3-5 0-0 8, Burgess 1-2 0-0 2, Trice 4-5 0-0 9. Totals 27-51 13-20 74.
Halftime score—ASU 41, Western 29. 3-point goals—Western 4-13 (Boggs 1-1, Sumler 1-2, Sinclair 1-4, Tankelewicz 1-4, Brown 0-1, Harrelson 0-1, Ross 0-1), ASU 7-14 (Healy 4-5, Hamilton 2-5, Trice 1-2, Neal 0-1, Burgess 0-1). Rebounds—Western 35 (King 8), ASU 28 (Healy 8). Assists—Western 7 (King 3), ASU 13 (Canty 5). Turnovers—Western 17, ASU 15. Total fouls—Western 19, ASU 18. Fouled out—None. Technical fouls—None. Att.—2,852.