Mountaineers survive upset scare
by Jordan Davis
Appalachian State pulled out a 78-70 win Wednesday night against North Greenville, despite a sluggish first half.
The Mountaineers (2-5) trailed 43-37 at the half, and did not score for nearly four minutes to start the second as the Crusaders took their largest lead of the game 47-37. From that point on the Mountaineers rode the hot hand of guard Mike Neal in the second half, who put up 21 points in the final 20 minutes.
App State outscored the Division II Crusaders by 18 points in the final 16 minutes.
Neal hit two straight 3-point baskets to give the Mountaineers a 50-49 lead, their first of the second half, with 13 minutes left in the game. It was a lead App State would not give back. Neal ended up making 3-of-7 from 3-point range and finished with a game-high 27 points.
Tevin Baskin, who made all nine of his free throws attempts, finished with 19 points.
"It definitely helped picks the team up when a teammate get going and playing with energy, it makes you want to play with energy," App guard Frank Eaves said. "(Neal) made some shots that we needed down the stretch. We're going to need that from him and the rest of the team to be the team we want to be."
The lead switched hands six times throughout the first half as neither team could pull away. The Crusaders came out hot from beyond the arc by making 8-of-14 of their 3-point shots in the first half.
North Greenville shot 53.1 percent in the first half, but cooled off to shooting 32.3 percent in the second half, when they made just 1-of-10 from the 3-point range.
Despite shooting only 31 percent from the field in the first half, the Mountaineers were able to hang around by forcing eight turnovers, including five steals, and scoring some easy buckets in transition. App State finished with a 20-9 advantage in points off of turnovers.
App also received a big first half from Michael Obacha with six offensive rebounds and eight points. Obacha finished the game with 11 points and a career best 16 rebounds, but was more concerned with the team's play.
"The first half was not good at all, we must play harder the whole 40 minutes," Obacha said. "When we were up 10 we should have found a way to go up by 15 or 20, we shouldn't have been down six points at half time. The difference in the second half was we played harder and together."
Appalachian coach Jason Capel did not feel his players were together as a team -- which is why he played so few players in the second half.
"I thought we had too many guys worried about offense; worried about my shots not falling - because of that certain guys didn't play very much the second half," Capel said. "If that's what I have to do to get the guys on the court that are going to give me effort and play the way we need to play, then I'll burn every time out and play a shorter bench of guys."
Chris Dean led North Greenville in scoring with 19 points. Micah Parker added 16 points and Thomas Horn scored 13 coming off the bench for the Crusades.
App State hosts Charlotte at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Appalachian State 78, North Greenville 70
North Greenville 70 (6-3)
Brown 2-7 0-0 4, Parker 5-12 4-4 16, George 2-7 0-0 5, Johnson 4-9 0-1 9, Dean 7-18 3-3 19, Horn 5-8 0-0 13, Ferguson 0-0 0-0 0, Couvillion 1-1 0-0 2, Blyden 1-1 0-0 2, Jencks 0-0 0-0 0
Appalachian State 78 (2-5)
Baskin 5-14 9-9 19, Obacha 2-3 7-10 11, Hamilton 1-6 0-0 3, Burgess 1-5 1-4 3, Eaves 3-13 0-0 7, Gilbert 0-2 0-0 0, Spagnolo 0-1 0-0 0, Neal 9-17 6-11 27, Toney 3-5 2-2 8
Halftime score--App State 37 North Greenville 43. 3-point goals--App State 5-24 (Neal 3-7, Eaves 1-7, Hamilton 1-3, Toney 0-1, Baskin 0-1), North Greenville 9-24 (Horn 3-3, Dean 2-5, Parker 2-5, George 1-4, Johnson 1-4, Brown 0-3). Rebounds--App State 47 (Obacha 16), North Greenville 37 (Johnson 8). Assists --App State 12 (Burgess 4), North Greenville 9 (George 4). Steals--App State 7 (Toney 2), North Greenville 3 (Brown, George, Dean). Turnovers--App State 7 North Greenville 15. Total fouls--App State 16, North Greenville 30. Fouled out--App State, Baskin; North Greenville, Johnson. Technical fouls--North Greenville, Parker, Coulillion. Att.--672.