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Originally published: 2013-03-02 17:24:36
Last modified: 2013-03-02 17:24:36

Mountaineers clinch bye in SoCon Tournament

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

It took Appalachian State the entire regular season to earn the final first-round bye into the Southern Conference Tournament, but it's official -- the Mountaineers have the first round off.

And if Appalachian State can play like it did in its 86-60 victory over Chattanooga Saturday in front of 2,102 at the Holmes Center, the Mountaineers will last more than at least the second round. Appalachian State led by as many as 36 points (80-44) in the second half, and never let that lead slip below 25 points the rest of the game.

Appalachian State (14-15, 10-8 SoCon) plays at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Southern Conference Tournament, which is at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville. The Mountaineers play the winner of the No. 5 seed and the No. 12 seed.

Davidson, the South Division champion, is the No. 1 seed overall. North Division Elon is the No. 2 seed and Chattanooga, which finished second in the South, is the No. 3 overall seed.

The Mountaineers were in control from the start on Saturday against a Chattanooga team that was also battling for that No. 4 seed. The Mocs (13-8, 8-10) would have earned the bye if they had beaten Appalachian State and if Samford had lost.

Appalachian State obliterated those plans by jumping out to a 27-11 lead with 10:28 left in the first half. Appalachian State shot 56.3 percent in the first half by making 18-of-32 shots. The Mountaineers dished out 14 assists on those 18 shots, and led 55-30 by halftime.

Appalachian State's two seniors -- Nate Healy and Jamaal Trice -- played big roles in the victory. Healy, a former walk-on who has emerged as a potential all-SoCon player, finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Trice added 13 points with help of making three 3-of-5 3-point shots.

ASU's Jay Canty led all scorers with 27 points after making 10-of-15 shots. Canty also pulled down five rebounds and dished out four assists. Point guard Mike Neal, who did not start, finished with 10 assists and three steals in 30 minutes of playing time.

Chattanooga, which shot 39.1 percent from the field, got 16 points from Casey Jones and 10 points from Ronrico White. Chattanooga had just six assists and turned the ball over 17 times.

Appalachian State also helped itself from the foul line by making 20-of-27 free throws. Chattanooga made just 15-of-32 from the free throw line, and just 3-of-12 from 3-point range.

Appalachian State's 3-point shooters made 12-of-26 shots from beyond the arc.

 

Appalachian State 86, Chattanooga 60

Chattanooga (13-18, 8-10)

Zlovaric 1-5 2-2 4, Jones 7-8 2-4 16, Mason 4-9 1-4 9, White 3-7 3-6 10, McGee 2-7 4-8 9, Stokes 0-0 0-2 0, Watson 2-2 2-2 6, Bareika 0-2 0-0 0, Bran 0-3 0-0 0, Robertson 1-3 0-0 3, Bryant 1-3 1-4 3. Totals 21-50 15-32 60.

Appalachian State (14-15, 10-8)

Obacha 1-3 5-6 7, Healy 7-17 2-4 20, Trice 4-9 2-2 13, Hamilton 1-4 0-0 3, Burgess 0-1 0-0 0, Baskin 1-1 3-4 6, Gilbert 0-0 0-0 0, Spagnolo 0-0 3-4 3, Rutherford 1-1 0-0 2, Eaves 0-0 0-0 0, Neal 2-5 0-0 5, Canty 10-15 5-7 27. Totals 27-56 20-27 86.

Halftime score --ASU 55, Chattanooga 30. 3-point goals--UTC 3-12 (Robertson 1-2, McGhee 1-3, White 1-3, Mason 0-1, Bran 0-1, Bareika 0-2), ASU 12-26 (Healy 4-10, Trice 3-5, Canty 2-2, Baskin 1-1, Neal 1-3, Hamilton 1-4, Burgess 0-1). Rebounds--UTC 35 (Mason 10), ASU 36 (Healy 14). Assists--UTC 6 (White, MCGhee 2), ASU 19 (Neal 10). Turnovers--UTC 17, ASU 12. Total fouls--UTC 20, ASU 26. Fouled out--UTC, Stokes; ASU Obacha. Technical fouls--UTC team. Att.--2102.