Mountaineers hold on to beat Eagles
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Burgess drained a 3-point basket with 12 seconds left, which was enough to give the Mountaineers a 64-62 overtime victory after the Mountaineers once held a 17-point lead.
Burgess missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out of regulation time. On his second chance, Burgess said he wanted to get the ball to teammate Nate Healy, but that play wasn’t available.
He eventually was left open by the Georgia Southern defense, which was playing a 1-3-1 zone, and was able to get a shot off.
“We were trying to get the ball to Nate for an open shot,” Burgess said. “They were doing a good job of getting in our way, so I passed the ball crosscourt. It was passed back to me and I needed to take a big shot. I stepped up and shot the ball and it went in.”
Healy, who played in 42 of the game’s 45 minutes, led the Mountaineers in scoring with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Burgess, despite making just 3-of-10 from the field, added 12 points off the bench. Michael Obacha added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Burgess could see his role expand depending on the status of starting point guard Mike Neal, who injured his left ankle in the second half of the game. Mountaineers head coach Jason Capel was unsure if Neal would be ready to play Saturday at home against Davidson.
Capel also did not know if starting forward Jay Canty would play Saturday. Canty hurt his right thumb early in the first half going for a rebound and did not return.
Capel was happy with how the Mountaineers were able to survive the loss of two starters.
“How easy would it have been losing your best player — your leading scorer and second-leading rebounder in the first two minutes and losing your point guard with a lot of time left — it would have been very easy to cave in,” Capel said.
The Mountaineers, with Canty on the bench, jumped out to a 21-8 early lead, which they stretched to 17 points two times. A Tab Hamilton 3-point basket put the Mountaineers in front 52-35 with 8:44 left in the game.
Georgia Southern started to chip away at that lead. A 15-1 run pulled the Eagles to 53-50 with one minute left in the game.
Georgia Southern used a full-court press to get back into the game. Appalachian State, which struggled with the press when blowing a 19-point lead in an overtime loss to Chattanooga Jan. 17, turned the ball over five times and missed five shots during Georgia Southern’s run.