Despite another Stywall double-double, late run lifts App State past UNCG
BOONE, N.C. - Appalachian State broke open a tight game with an 11-0 run late in the second half to defeat UNC Greensboro, 72-64, in Southern Conference men's basketball action Saturday afternoon at the Holmes Center.
Ben Stywall led the Spartans with 19 points and 12 rebounds, moving up another notch on the school's career scoring list in the process. Stywall passed Nathan Jameson, moving into 14th place with 1,048 career points. It was his eighth-double of the season, tops in the Southern Conference, and the 20th of his career.
Donald Sims had a game-high 21 points, 16 of them coming in the second half, to lead Appalachian State (10-7, 4-2 SoCon). Jeremi Booth added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Mikko Koivisto and Brian Cole each added 11 points for UNCG (3-15, 2-5 SoCon). The Spartans had a season-low six turnovers but weren't as effective on the glass as they have been for most of this season. ASU outrebounded them, 46-33, and the Spartans converted 11 offensive boards into just five second-chance points.
Neither team had led by more than a bucket in the second half until the decisive run. Sims scored five of his points in the 11-0 spurt that broke a 51-51 tie.
Trailing 65-55 with 1:53 to play, the Spartans made one last push. A Koivisto trey cut the margin back to six, 68-62, with one minute to play. But Kellen Brand hit two free throws three seconds later and Booth followed a Koivisto miss with two more from the stripe to put the game away.
"I thought we battled pretty well right up to that run at the end," said UNCG coach Mike Dement. "We had four or five good looks during that stretch and they just didn't go down for us and that has been the case these last couple of games. Each time we miss an open shot, something rattles out. Today, Sims hit a big three and then (A.J.) Highsmith comes off the bench - he hasn't played much and he hits a three and that was big."
Appalachian State opened up a seven-point lead midway through the first half. Ryann Abraham's jumper gave ASU a 20-13 lead with 9:14 to play in the half - the only time the teams were separated by more than four points in the opening half.
UNCG held the Mountaineers without a field goal for more than five minutes to forge their first lead of the afternoon. The Spartan defense sparked an 11-3 run to erase a four-point deficit. UNCG gained its first lead of the day on a pair of Stywall free throws, 24-23, with 5:23 left before the intermission and capped the run with a Kovisto trey nearly two minutes later to give the Spartans a four-point advantage of their own.
Appalachian State countered with a 9-2 run to regain the lead, but Kyle Randall's runner just before the buzzer make it a one-point game at the break, 32-31, in favor of the Mountaineers.
The game remained tight well into the second half, as well. Neither team had a lead over more than two points until ASU ran off 11 straight points to break things open, capped off by Sims' three-pointer with 2:48 to play.
UNCG had 17 more field goal attempts on the afternoon, but shot just 37.7 percent from the field (26-of-69), including 6-of-21 from behind the three-point line. ASU went to the line 29 times, compared to UNCG's seven, which tied a season-low. The Mountaineers were 10-for-12 at the line over the final 2:19.
The Spartans return home next weekend for a pair of Southern Conference contests, beginning with a match-up against Chattanooga on Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
APPALACHIAN STATE 72, UNCG 64
UNCG (3-15, 2-5 SoCon)
Ben Stywall 8-17 3-3 19; Mikko Koivisto 3-9 2-2 11; Brian Cole 5-9 1-2 11; Kendall Toney 3-9 0-0 8; Kyle Randall 3-11 0-0 6; Darrius Sellers 2-2 0-0 4; Brandon Evans 1-5 0-0 3; Korey Van Dussen 1-2 0-0 2; Pete Brown 0-5 0-0 0; Montel Smith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-69 6-7 64.
APPALACHIAN STATE (10-7,4-2 SoCon)
Donald Sims 7-13 4-4 21; Jeremi Booth 3-6 5-6 12; Isaac Butts 4-7 1-3 9; Ryann Abraham 3-6 2-5 8; Kellen Brand 1-7 5-6 8; Josh Hunter 2-5 1-3 5; A.J. Highsmith 1-1 2-2 5; Andre Williamson 1-2 0-0 2; Marcus Wright 1-3 0-0 2; Nathan Healy 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 20-29 72.
Halftime: Appalachian State 32-31. 3-point goals--UNCG 6-21 (Mikko Koivisto 3-8; Kendall Toney 2-7; Brandon Evans 1-2; Korey Van Dussen 0-1; Kyle Randall 0-2; Brian Cole 0-1), Appalachian State 6-19 (Donald Sims 3-8; A.J. Highsmith 1-1; Jeremi Booth= 1-3; Kellen Brand 1-3; Marcus Wright 0-1; Ryann Abraham 0-3). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Appalachian State-None. Rebounds--UNCG 33 (Ben Stywall 12), Appalachian State 46 (Isaac Butts 11). Assists--UNCG 13 (Kyle Randall 3; Mikko Koivisto 3), Appalachian State 12 (Ryann Abraham 4). Total fouls--UNCG 19, Appalachian State 10. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Appalachian State-None. A-2162
FREE THROWS: Stywall, who made his 100th career start on Saturday afternoon, became just the fourth Spartans to record 800 career rebounds in Thursday's loss at Western Carolina. He now has 814 for his career. Next up on the all-time rebounding list for him is Eric Cuthrell who is third at 859... Walk-on guard Robby Dilmore was not available for Saturday's game after catching a stray elbow in the side of the head at practice on Friday night. He will be re-evaluated later in the week... Koivisto moved up a notch on the career scoring list, as well. He is now in 16th place with 1,023 points, passing Kevin Oleksiak on the all-time list.
- UNCG -