By David Rogers. December 7, 2014. BOONE, NC — With five players in double figures, including a game-high 17 by junior guard Juan’ya Green and a “double-double” (10 rebounds and 10 points) by fellow junior guard Malik Nichols, visiting Hofstra ran away from Appalachian State Sunday afternoon at the Holmes Convocation Center, 68-51.
From the start, it was an intriguing matchup. App State had a distinct size advantage so was expected to dominate in the paint. The Pride went into the game averaging a little more than 43% in three-point shooting, so was expected to be pouring them in from downtown.
Early play fit the level of intrigue. For the first six minutes, it was a back and forth battle. When Mountaineer junior guard Tab Hamilton nailed a three-pointer at the 14:21 mark of the first half to finish bringing App State back from a four-point deficit, the reported attendance of almost 1,600 fans got the feeling that it COULD be the home team’s night.
Keys to the Game
- Appalachian did not capitalize on their height advantage. Hofstra matched the Mountaineers with 28 points inside the paint.
- The Mountaineers gave up 21 points in committing 15 turnovers. Hofstra played mostly error free, with only 4 turnovers that resulted in 5 Mountaineer points.
- App kept the Pride shooters 10 percentage points under their season average (43%) for hitting three-pointers, holding Hofstra to just 33% on Sunday. And yet, Hofstra’s 6 made treys were three more (9 points) than the Mountaineers’ three, 3-pointers. Appalachian State was only 17.6% from behind the arc.
- After getting in foul trouble, Spagnolo saw relatively little action for the Mountaineers, registering only 18 minutes of playing time.
- With their two “big men” out, Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich went mostly with a 5-guard lineup on the floor. While this added to Appalachian’s height advantage, the smaller and quicker athletes posed matchup problems for the Mountaineers’ forwards.
But turnover by the Mountaineers’ Hamilton and Tommy Spagnolo, and three quick baskets from the Pride’s Green, Dion Nesmith, forward Ameen Tanksley, and suddenly App State was looking at the wrong end of a 6-point deficit. Appalachian flirted with pulling back even by the end of the half — just as much as they flirted with letting the game totally get away from them by intermission. At the 5:16 mark of the first stanza, they had closed to within a point, 19-18, but a little over two minutes later, they trailed by 7 when Tanksley hit a three-pointer for Hofstra.
The second half started with more of the same. Hofstra would make a run, App closed the gap to take a narrow, 1-point lead, but after the 12:34 mark, the game simply slipped away — and away and away.
Joining Green (17) and Nichols (10) in double figures for Hofstra were Tanksley (13), Brian Bernardi (10), and Nesmith (11). A guard/forward, Dustin Clarke pulled down a team-high 8 rebounds for the Mountaineers, while Jake Babic tied with the Pride’s Jamall Robinson and Green for game-high honors in assists.
Afterwards, Mihalich was complimentary of the job the Mountaineers’ head coach Jim Fox is doing in the High Country. “We are real pleased with this win,” the Hofstra head coach observed afterwards. “I don’t know if (Appalachian State) was the hottest team in America, but after winning three in a row, including wins over Virginia Tech and Hampton, the Mountaineers were hot.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mihalich added, “Jim (Fox) has done a great job in the short amount of time he has been here. As he continues to put his fingerprints on this program, more good things are going to happen here. I looked at videotape (of App State) right away after our last game, and by midnight that night I knew we were going to play a tough bunch of guys, a team that plays with a sense of purpose, and that we would have to play (well) on offense and defense. It made for a couple of restless nights. But I am quite proud of our guys for coming in here and taking care of business.”
“Hofstra is a good team,” acknowledged Fox in his post-game press conference. “Offensively, they presented a lot of problems for us and they did a nice job of guarding our stuff. They mixed it up well on us and we just didn’t execute.”
In addition to holding Hofstra to 10 percentage points under the Pride’s season average in three-point shooting efficiency, Appalachian State limited Hofstra to 12 points under its season average (80.1 ppg).
App State plays three more games before Christmas, all on the road: @ Georgia Tech (Dec. 15), at Charlotte (Dec. 18), and @ Alabama (Dec. 21).
Slideshow of Images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News