App State men’s basketball dropped a 56-54 contest to South Alabama in its home finale on Saturday.
Prior to tip, the Mountaineers (12-9, 6-6 SBC) honored seniors Michael Almonacy, Jamie Baker, Justin Forrest and manager Daniel Whitener for their contributions to the program as part of Senior Day festivities.
South Alabama (16-8, 10-5 SBC) opened up a 40-33 lead with 14:45 left to play in the game. From there, App State rallied to tie the game on a 3-pointer from Almonacy with 11:42 left. The Mountaineers then used five straight points from Forrest to take a 49-44 lead with 7:00 remaining.
The Jaguars pulled within a point with 4:50 remaining, but the Mountaineers came right back with a basket from Almonacy to open a 53-50 edge with 4:15 to go. South Alabama tied the game at 53-53 with just over three minutes left and pulled ahead 56-53 with 1:07 remaining.
On App State’s next possession, James Lewis Jr. was fouled and split a pair of free throws to pull within two points at 56-54. The Black and Gold got a stop on South Alabama’s next possession and Almonacy missed a 3-pointer with seven seconds left. Lewis Jr. pulled down the rebound and went back up for a layup, but was blocked with South Alabama grabbing the rebound. The Jaguars gained possession and ran out the clock for the win.
Trailing 7-6 early, App State went on a 6-0 run to open a 12-7 advantage in the first half. South Alabama jumped in front 20-18 and extended its lead to 28-22. The Mountaineers stormed back with a 9-3 spurt to tie the score at 31-31, before a late basket by the Jaguars gave them a 33-31 edge at the break.
Forrest finished with a game high 20 points and six rebounds. Lewis Jr. tallied his third double-double of the season and fourth of his career with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Donovan Gregory chipped in with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.
App State won the rebounding battle by a slim 40-39 margin and limited the Jaguars to 35.1 percent (20-of-57) shooting from the field.
The Mountaineers will have a quick turnaround and will travel to Georgia State on Tuesday. Tip is set for 5 p.m. on ESPN+ and the Appalachian Sports Network from Learfield IMG College.