App State men’s basketball pulled within two points with under nine minutes to play, but fell 67-53 at Auburn in its non-conference finale on Tuesday.
The Mountaineers conclude non-conference play with a 6-3 mark. The 6-3 record is the best non-conference record for the program since posting a 9-3 mark in 2006-07. App State also finishes with a winning non-conference record for the second straight season, marking the first time the program has achieved the feat since the 1998-99 (6-4) and 1999-00 (6-4) season. The Black and Gold went 6-5 in non-conference action last season.
After trailing by three points at the half, Auburn (6-2) scored the first seven points to begin the second half and take a 41-31 edge. The Tigers extended their lead to 45-33, before App State roared back with a 9-0 run, getting seven points from Adrian Delph along the way, to pull within two at 45-42 with 10:13 to go.
Auburn scored on its next possession, but the Mountaineers came right back with a 3-pointer from Michael Almonacy to cut the Tigers lead to 47-45 with 8:56 left. The Tigers answered with a 12-0 run to push their lead to 14 points at 59-45 with just over four minutes remaining. The Black and Gold would get no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
App State scored the first nine points of the game, holding the Tigers scoreless for the first 5:26 to take an early 9-0 advantage. Auburn battled back to tie the game at 11-11 before a jumper from Almonacy gave the Black and Gold a 13-11 edge. With the score tied at 20-20, the Tigers scored seven of the next nine points to take a 27-22 lead. Later in the half, the Mountaineers used back-to-back 3-pointers from Almonacy to tie the score at 31-31. A late trifecta by the Tigers gave them a 34-31 lead at the break.
Almonacy drained a trio of 3-pointers to finish with a game high tying 15 points. Delph finished with nine points and Donovan Gregory tallied seven points and a team high tying four rebounds.
App State posted another strong performance at the free throw line, going 17-of-21 (81.0 percent). In addition, the Black and Gold committed a season low seven turnovers, including just one in the first half.
Jaylin Williams paced Auburn with a game high tying 15 points, while Allen Flanigan added 13 points and six rebounds.
The Mountaineers will take time off for the holiday and return to action with a pair of Sun Belt games against Troy on Jan. 1 (6 p.m.) and Jan. 2 (4 p.m.) in the Holmes Convocation Center.