By David Rogers. February 8, 2020. BOONE, NC — Call it a small bookends win. Ahead by a little in the opening minutes and at the end, in between Appalachian State men’s basketball rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to visiting Texas State, finishing with a hard-earned, 60-57 win in front of 2,164 Saturday night at the Holmes Convocation Center.
COVER IMAGE: App State senior guard O’Showen Williams recorded a game-high 19 points in leading the Mountaineer win over visiting Texas State. Photographic image by Bill Barbour and edited by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
The Mountaineers’ senior guard O’Showen Williams poured in a game-high 19 points for his evening’s work, none more important than his two made free throws to pull App State to within two points of the Bobcats, 55-53, with 5:35 left in the game. Half a minute later, Texas State turned the ball back over to their hosts on a shot clock violation and less than a minute later Bobcat big man Eric Terry fouled out, in the process sending Mountaineer forward Hunter Seacat to the foul line.
Seacat, the towering 6-9 redshirt senior from Mooresville, NC sank was good on both free throws, knotting the score for the first time since the opening minutes, this time at 55-55, at the 4:38 mark.
For the next two and a half minutes, what followed was a series of turnovers and missed shots by both sides. Finally, with 1:52 left on the clock senior forward Isaac Johnson muscled his way up and in off of a rare offensive rebound to put Appalachian on top since the opening eight minutes of the first half.
Just thirty seconds later, the Bobcats’ forward Isiah Small answered with an offensive rebound and putback of his own, tying the game for a final time at 57-all. The two Sun Belt Conference adversaries traded turnovers and steals for the next minute, but with 18 seconds remaining the Mountaineers junior guard pulled up on the left-center of the three-point arc and calmly sank his only successful shot of the night from long range. It came at the most opportune time, putting the home team on top to stay, 60-57.
The victory puts the Mountaineers (14-11 overall) in a tie for 4th place in the Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball standings, at 8-6, with Texas State (15-10 overall). With a 13-2 conference mark, Little Rock is at the head of the class, but the rest of the league is tightly bunched. Above the Mountaineers and Bobcats, Georgia State and Georgia Southern are tied for second at 9-5. Below App State and Texas State, South Alabama is 7-7 and Arkansas State is 7-8.
While Texas State had a total of nine players on the court Saturday night against the Mountaineers and their minutes played ranged from almost 30 (29:54) on the high side to 11:33 on the low side, App State’ coaching staff had their starting five play virtually the entire game. Williams never left the court and young forward Kendall Lewis played the fewest minutes of the starters, but still at 33:53. On this night, the three Mountaineers’ bench players had little more than cameo appearances.
After the game, Blowing Rock News asked Appalachian head coach Dustin Kerns if the concentration of minutes was part of a new trend. He quickly answered while glancing down at the box score printed for coaches and media, “No, that is not something we really wanted to do…While James Lewis, Jr. was on the court, we lost 11 points. When Adrian Delph was on the court, we lost seven. When Michael Bibby was inserted, we lost 11, too. I didn’t need a stat sheet to know that when those guys were on the floor we weren’t getting it done.”
Much of Texas State’s early, 18-point lead resulted from their 5-of-9 (55.5%) shooting from behind the arc, with four players contributing, led by sophomore transfer guard Caleb Asberry, who hit on two of four attempts from long range. The Bobcats were frustrated by the Mountaineers’ zone defense in the second half, successful on only 1-of-8 (12.5%) “treys” in the home stretch.
App State travels south next week, to The Peach State. The Mountaineers face Georgia State in Atlanta on Thursday, February 13, then head to Statesville for a post-Valentine’s Day tilt at Georgia Southern.
- APP – O’Showen Williams: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals
- APP – Justin Forrest: 14 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds
- TXST – Mason Harrell: 11 points, 3 steals
- TXST – Caleb Asbury: 11 points, 6 rebounds
- APP – Hunter Seacat: 10 points, 9 rebounds
- APP – Isaac Johnson: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- TXST – Isiah Small: 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
- APP – Kendall Lewis: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
- TXST – Marlin Davis: 11 assists 3 rebounds
Sun Belt Scores on Saturday, February 8th
- @ App State 60, Texas State 57
- @ Coastal Carolina 89, Texas-Arlington 75
- Georgia State 77, @ Louisiana-Monroe 69
- @ Little Rock 90, Arkansas State 87
- Georgia Southern 86, @ Louisiana 79