App State men’s basketball fell 65-63 to South Alabama in a Sun Belt clash on Friday evening.
A pair of free throws from South Alabama’s (15-8, 9-5 SBC) Michael Flowers with 5:27 to go gave them a 63-52 edge. App State (12-8, 6-5 SBC) answered with the next four points on free throws from Justin Forrest and Michael Almonacy to pull within seven points 4:07 to play.
The Jaguars came right back with a basket on their next possession, but the Mountaineers used two more free throws from Forrest to trim the South Alabama lead to 65-58 with 3:11 to go. App State pulled within five on a Donovan Gregory basket with 1:52 to go. Following a stop, Almonacy was fouled behind the 3-point line and hit all three free throws to make the score 65-63 in favor of the Jaguars with 59 seconds left.
The Black and Gold got a stop on South Alabama’s next possession and Adrian Delph grabbed the rebounds. The Mountaineers took three shots in the closing seconds, but could not get the shot to fall, allowing South Alabama to escape with the win.
App State broke an early 6-6 tie with a 7-0 spurt to open a 13-6 lead with just over over 15 minutes left. South Alabama chipped away to pull within 21-19, before RJ Duhart drained a 3-pointer to push the Mountaineer lead to 24-19. The Jaguars took a 29-28 lead late in the half, but the Mountaineers used a basket from James Lewis Jr. in the final seconds to take a 30-29 lead into halftime.
Forrest paced the Mountaineers with a game high 20 points, going 9-of-10 (90.0 percent) from the free throw line. He added three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Gregory tallied his second double-double of the season with 14 points and a career best 13 rebounds, six of which were offensive. He also had a game high three steals.
Almonacy had 15 points, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Lewis Jr. pulled down 12 rebounds, with nine coming on the offensive glass.
In all, App State outrebounded the Jaguars 44-39, including a 18-8 edge on the offensive glass. The Black and Gold turned its 18 offensive rebounds into 18 second chance points.
The Mountaineer bench also held a 20-10 advantage in scoring and the Black and Gold forced South Alabama into 17 turnovers, scoring 16 points off the miscues.
The two teams will conclude their weekend series on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN+ and the Appalachian Sports Network from Learfield IMG College.