Spagnolo lifts Mountaineers past The Citadel
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Tommy Spagnolo's role with Appalachian State seems to increase with every game.
Usually, Spagnolo was the guy who would grab some rebounds, play some defense and occasionally score some points. In Appalachian State's 54-45 victory over The Citadel Thursday, Spagnolo has turned into an important part of the Mountaineers' offense.
Spagnolo proved that in the second half of the game Thursday by making two key shots that helped seal the victory for the Mountaineers.
Spagnolo's first key basket was a layup that gave the Mountaineers a 44-41 lead with 3:39 left in the game. What was just as important as increasing App State's lead to three points was that it was the Mountaineers' first basket from the field since a Mike Neal 3-pointer made with 11:04 left in the game.
The Mountaineers had gone six possessions without a basket during that time. They missed six shots and had a turnover during the stretch that The Citadel used to go on a 7-0 run to pull to 42-41.
Spagnolo's second key shot turned out to be the Mountaineers knockout punch. His baseline hook shot from outside the key with 36 seconds left gave App State a 48-43 lead.
"Tommy's getting better," Mountaineers coach Jason Capel said. "His role on the team has changed. You're talking about a guy who has been out of basketball for probably two years. We found him in (Student Recreation Center). He didn't have a role last year. He starts opening day, gets sick (and) loses a lot of weight. Now, he's the focal point of our offense."
Spagnolo said Capel drew up both plays for the baskets the 6-foot-7 made during a preceding timeout.
"That's a play we drew up, so it was just about executing a play and being confident that I could finish it," Spagnolo said. "Luckily I got it to fall."
The Citadel could not convert on the other end, and after Spagnolo got the rebound, teammate Tab Hamilton hit the first two of the four foul shots he would convert in the final 23 seconds to seal the win.
Neither team showed any great signs of offensive fireworks. Appalachian State shot a mere 38.3 percent from the field and 37 percent in a first half that saw the teams struggle to a 21-21 tie.
Appalachian State got 17 points from Hamilton to go with the 12 points and 12 rebounds from Spagnolo. Neal also scored 15 points, but no other Mountaineer scored more than three.
The Citadel didn't fare much better. The Bulldogs shot 36 percent from the field, and the 45 points they scored were the fewest App State had allowed since they beat Lees-McRae 77-44 in 2009.
It's also the fewest the Mountaineers have given up since they beat The Citadel 48-41 in 1981.
The Bulldogs got 13 points from Quinton Marshall and 12 points from Matt Van Scyoc. The Citadel was hurt from the foul line by converting just 4-of-5 compared to App State making 12-of-15 of its free throws.
The Citadel only grabbed six offensive rebounds compared to nine for the Mountaineers, who outrebounded the Bulldogs 36-28.
"We had some good looks at the rim," Citadel coach Chuck Driesell said. "The guys did a really nice job of executing in a close situation like that and creating an open shot. We just didn't. We didn't knock it down."
Appalachian State turns its attention to Western Carolina, which is waiting for the Mountaineers to invade the Ramsey Center at 2 p.m. Saturday. Western Carolina has not played since Jan. 30 when the Catamounts lost to Elon 74-60.
Appalachian State 54, The Citadel 45
The Citadel 45 (4-21, 0-10)
Bray 4-9 0-0 9, Horgan 0-6 0-0 0, Moore 2-9 0-0 5, Van Scyoc 4-10 2-2 12, Marshall 6-9 1-2 13, Sledge 0-2 0-0 0, Harris III 2-2 1-1 6, Koopman 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 4-5 45.
Appalachian State 54 (7-15, 3-6)
Obacha 0-3 2-4 2, Spagnolo 5-7 2-2 12, Hamilton 6-15 4-4 17, Burgess 1-4 0-0 3, Neal 4-12 4-5 15, Kobani 1-3, 0-0 2, Eaves 0-1 0-0 0, Toney 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 18-47 12-15 54.
Halftime score--App State 27, The Citadel 21. 3-point goals--The Citadel 5-15 (Van Scyoc 2-5, Harris 1-1, Bray 1-2, Moore 1-5, Sledge 0-2), App State 6-19 (Neal 3-9, Toney 1-2, Burgess 1-3, Hamilton 1-5). Rebounds--The Citadel 28 (Three with five), App State 36 (Spagnolo 12). Assists--The Citadel 10 (Moore 5), App State 13 (Neal 6). Steals--The Citadel 5 (Moore 4), App State 4 (Four with one). Turnovers--The Citadel 8, App State 10. Total fouls--The Citadel 14, App State 12. Fouled out--The Citadel, Harris III. Technical fouls--None. Att.--820.