Behind a season high tying 24 points from Justin Forrest, App State men’s basketball advanced to the Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinals with a 67-60 over Little Rock on Friday night.
The Mountaineers (14-11) will take on Sun Belt West Division champion Texas State on Saturday at 9 p.m. EST at the Pensacola Bay Center.
The victory also marks the second straight season App State has posted a win in the Sun Belt Tournament. The last time the Mountaineers won conference tournament games in back-to-back seasons was during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
Forrest also scored 24 points on Feb. 26 at Georgia Southern. He drained five 3-pointers and added a pair of assists in the victory. In addition, Forrest also moved into the top-five in program history in scoring with a 3-pointer at the 8:52 mark of the first half.
Three other Mountaineers reached double figure scoring in the win. Adrian Delph knocked down a season high tying five treys to finish with 14 points and five rebounds. Michael Almonacy tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Donovan Gregory added 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Black and Gold used an early 8-0 run to turn a 9-3 deficit into an 11-9 lead. Little Rock regained the lead, but App State used back-to-back 3-pointers from Forrest to take a 22-19 edge. After Little Rock tied the game with a 3-pointer of its own, the Mountaineers used back-to-back treys from Forrest and Almonacy to open a 28-22 edge with 6:47 left in the opening half. App State took a 30-29 lead into the break.
In the second half, the Mountaineers pushed their lead to seven points at 49-42 with 9:12 to play on another three from Delph. Following a Little Rock free throw, Delph drained another three to push the App State lead to 52-43. A free throw from Gregory with 5:36 left to play gave the Mountaineers their largest lead of the game at 55-45.
The Trojans mounted a comeback and trimmed the Black and Gold lead to 56-51 with 3:19 to go. App State came right back with the next four points, capped off by a thunderous dunk from Gregory, to extend its lead to 60-51 with 1:41 remaining. Little Rock pulled within seven points down the stretch, but could get no closer the rest of the way.
In all, App State drained a total of 12 3-pointers in the win, marking the seventh time this season the Mountaineers have reached double figures in threes made. The Black and Gold also dished out 16 assists and forced the Trojans into 14 turnovers, scoring 20 points off the miscues.
Ben Coupet Jr. had 19 points and six rebounds for Little Rock, while Ruot Monyyong tallied a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.