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Donovan Gregory
Donovan Gregory led the Mountaineers with 19 points.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Men’s Basketball Downs Toledo in Double Overtime

For the first time in the month of February, the App State Mountaineers played at home and delivered a game-of-the-year candidate, defeating the three-time reigning MAC champion Toledo Rockets 109-104 in double overtime. It was the first time since 2016 that App State has played in a game where both teams scored at least 100 points while also being App State’s first double-overtime win since 2021. Five different Mountaineers played over 30 minutes and six players scored at least 10 points in the win. As a team, the Mountaineers shot an incredible 60 percent from the field, including a 19-25 first-half performance.

With App State (20-5, 10-2 SBC) down nine points with 139 seconds to play, the Mountaineers furiously stormed back to tie the game at 90 apiece with 20 seconds to play in regulation. Myles Tate led the charge against Toledo (15-9, 9-2 MAC), scoring five points in a matter of 40 seconds. Tate’s driving layup through contact and resulting free throw with 20 seconds to play capped off the comeback in regulation as play headed to overtime.

The Mountaineers found themselves down again in the first overtime, but as they have done so often this season, they fought back to tie it at 97 thanks to a Donovan Gregory three-point play. App State finally took control in the second overtime period scoring 10 of the final 14 points to secure a five-point win. App State’s thrilling win over Toledo marked win No. 20 on the season, marking App State’s first 20-win season since the 2009-10 season. App State is one of 11 teams in the country with 20 wins.

It was a career day for several Mountaineers as both Jordan Marsh and Donovan Gregory tallied career-high point tallies. Marsh’s 17 points off the bench brought energy throughout the building in his minutes while Gregory’s strong 24-point effort on near-perfect 10-11 shooting brought the crowd to its feet on several occasions. It was a total team effort in the win with App State’s bench scoring 50 of its 109 points.

Capping off the day, Justin Abson set the App State single-season block record with his first block of the game. Abson tallied six blocks total on the day, making him the first Mountaineer in program history to reach 80 blocks in a single season.

App State started from behind against Toledo as the Rockets scored the first five points of the game courtesy of Javan Simmons and Sonny Wilson. The Rockets would extend their lead to six by the 15:44 mark, making four of their first six shots to start the contest.

The Mountaineers took the lead by the 14:05 mark, using a 7-0 run fueled by five straight points from Terence Harcum. App State scored nine of the next 13 points before the first media timeout, but the Rockets would take a one-point lead thanks to Tyler Cochran’s layup at the 12:53 mark.

Toledo came out of the break strong as they jumped ahead by six points with just over 10 minutes to play. But the hot shooting by App State continued as play progressed under the 10-minute mark, allowing the Mountaineers to reclaim the lead at 32-30.

App State’s two-point lead ballooned to seven as Marsh’s strong first half culminated with a steal and a layup. During App State’s run to tie the game and take the lead, the Black and Gold made 10 shots in a row. The Mountaineers quieted the Rockets down as play neared the final media break, keeping the high-powered Rocket offense to just six points over the five minutes.

A Marsh three put App State ahead by eight at the 3:52 mark, which was the largest lead of the game for App State, but Toledo regained its footing as play neared halftime, resulting in the Rockets taking a one-point lead into the break. The Rockets scored 11 of the final 13 points to steal the momentum before halftime.

It was an incredible display of offense for both teams in the first half, but App State’s near-perfect shooting from the field stole the show. The Mountaineers drained 19 of 25 first-half shots and made five threes. Toledo stood toe-to-toe with the Mountaineers hot offense, shooting 54 percent while burying seven threes.

Terence Harcum paced the Mountaineers in the first half, scoring 10 points on two made threes and 4-4 shooting. The bench provided a necessary spark as the Mountaineer second unit recorded 20 first-half points.

It was a back-and-forth start to the final frame as both teams jockeyed for position down the stretch. App State took the lead at 50-49 shortly into the second half, but Toledo worked to tie the game on three separate occasions in the first six minutes of play.

With the game tied at 59 and just over 14 minutes to play, Toledo found its rhythm on the defensive side, allowing the Rockets to take a seven-point lead. App State’s shooting went cold for a spell and the Rockets capitalized on that, going on a 7-2 run where they made four shots in a row.

Gregory brought the deficit back to just four by the under-12 timeout, but the Rockets’ hot shooting continued as play progressed to the 10-minute mark with Dante Maddox hitting three free throws and the team nailing three field goals in a row to take an eight-point lead at the 9:56 mark.

Toledo’s lead ballooned to 11 points, which was its largest lead of the game just before the under-eight timeout. During their 23-12 run over a seven-minute stretch, the Rockets made 10 of 11 shots. The run forced a few timeouts by Coach Kerns and drained the energy out of the Holmes Center.

Just as they have done all season, however, App State regained its composure and found its way back into the game. The Mountaineers slowly chipped away, cutting the lead back to seven by the under-four timeout thanks to a pair of buckets by Gregory, who had a career-high 24 points in the game.

With the deficit back to nine at the 2:19 mark, the Mountaineers went to work. First, it was Gregory who made a clutch layup to trim the lead to seven. Then, it was Harcum who got involved, scoring a basket to cut the lead to five with 96 seconds to play. A key block by Marsh and a turnover by Cochran gave App State the ball back, resulting in a pair of free throws by Tate. The defense stepped up again on the next possession as Gregory emphatically blocked a Maddox shot, which gave the Mountaineers the ball back.

Off the miss by the Rockets, Tate charged into the lane and sunk a layup while being fouled by Cochran to give App State a chance to tie the game in regulation. Tate stepped calmly to the line and delivered, tying the game at 90 with 20 seconds to play. Harcum stepped up on the defensive side, contesting a last-second shot as this incredible game headed to overtime.

For the second time in the last three games, an App State contest needed overtime to be decided. Tate started the extra frame the same way he ended the second half with a bucket to give App State its first lead since it was 59-56 at the 14:48 mark of the second half.

The Rockets took a three-point lead with two minutes to play courtesy of Maddox’s 25th point of the game. The Mountaineers and Gregory answered right back as the fifth-year standout stormed into the lane and made a shot while being fouled to tie the game at 97.

App State reclaimed the lead thanks to Marsh who intercepted an errant pass and raced down the floor for a fastbreak layup. Seven seconds later, Wilson got into the lane and made his layup to tie the game back up at 99 with 1:16 to play.

After a timeout from Kerns, App State had the ball with 14 seconds to play and drew up a play for Gregory. As he was driving, Cochran reached in and fouled Gregory to send him to the line for a chance to win the game with three seconds to play. Normally cool-handed at the line, Gregory could not convert either chance to win the game. This game needed two extra frames to be decided.

In App State’s first double overtime contest since 2021, Toledo reclaimed a two-point lead at 102-100 after Simmons sunk a layup. Fighting fatigue, the Mountaineers made a great play off a turnover, blocking a shot in transition to get the ball back with 2:54 to play. On the other end, it was Tate who delivered another clutch shot as he drilled a three to give App State a one-point lead.

The Rockets took the lead right back thanks to two free throws by Wilson. For the 17th and final time, the lead changed hands as Harcum calmly nailed two free throws to give App State a 105-104 lead with 2:13 to play.

Needing some insurance, Coach Kerns turned to his fifth-year guard for a bucket. The Rockets missed a shot to take the lead and Gregory led the team back down the floor. With the ball at the top of the key, Gregory drove in and nailed a double-pump layup as App State led by its largest lead since it was 59-56.

Immediately after Gregory’s layup, the Mountaineers called time to set their defense. This play proved vital as Cochran was stripped by Abson as he was driving, resulting in a foul and a chance for the sophomore forward to ice it. Abson did just that, draining two free throws and propelling the Mountaineers ahead by five with 16 seconds to play.

Desperate for an answer, the Rockets fired two more shots to cut the lead but missed both. When it was all said and done, it was Gregory who came out of the pack with the rebound and the game.

App State’s five-point win marks win No. 20 on the year and win No. 11 at home. The Mountaineers remained unbeaten at the Holmes Center and are still the lone remaining team in the Sun Belt with an unblemished home record.

In what was truly a team effort by the Black and Gold in the win, Donovan Gregory, Myles Tate and Jordan Marsh paced the offensive effort. Overall, six different players reached double-figures in the game and 12 players across both teams eclipsed 10 points. Gregory’s career day led App State as he tallied 24 points on 10-11 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots, including a huge one late to help the Mountaineers complete the comeback. Tate also reached 20 points, but his efforts down the stretch helped stabilize the Mountaineers as he tallied the final five points of regulation. Tate was +16 in his minutes. When App State needed a spark, it turned to freshman Jordan Marsh, and he did not let them down. In his best game as a Mountaineer, Marsh tallied a career-high 17 points on 6-12 shooting, dished out four assists and grabbed three rebounds. He also nailed all four of his free throws.

App State will have the next five days to recover before returning to the Holmes Center on Thursday to host the Marshall Thundering Herd. It will be the first of two meetings this season between Marshall and App State. Tipoff on Thursday is set for 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.