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Tre'Von Spillers
Tre'Von Spillers' 18-point, 16-rebound performance paced all scorers.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Men’s Basketball Clinch Top Seed in Sun Belt Tournament With Win

In the penultimate contest at the Holmes Convocation Center, the App State Mountaineers led by as much as 28 points while also never trailing to secure a convincing 89-64 win on Wednesday against Old Dominion. The win clinched the one seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and at least a share of the regular season title for the first time since the 1999-00 season.

App State’s (25-5, 15-2 SBC) thrashing at the Holmes Center tied the program record for wins in a season at 25 while also tying the program record for conference wins in a season. Securing the one seed at the conference tournament also marks the first time since the 1978-79 season that App State will enter the conference tournament as the one seed. The Mountaineers are one of just six teams in the country with at least 25 wins.

Additionally, the Mountaineers’ win over the Monarchs (7-23, 3-14 SBC) marked the 14th straight home win, extending their unbeaten streak at the Holmes Center. It ties the Holmes Center record for wins in a season with one more to play. The Mountaineers are still the lone remaining unbeaten team at home in the Sun Belt.

The Mountaineers scored 19 of the first 21 points, leaving the Monarchs in the dust straight from the opening tip. App State led by 25 points at halftime and scored 51 points, which is the most against a Division I opponent this season. Tre’Von Spillers’ first-half double-double highlighted the Mountaineers’ opening act in their return to the Holmes Center as he finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.

App State’s offense clicked from the opening tip and led to the team shooting 50 percent from the floor for the 11th time this season. App State is unbeaten when they shoot over 50 percent from the floor this season. The Mountaineers’ hot offense led to the fourth win this season of at least 25 points.

It took a while for either team to crack the scoreboard in the Mountaineers’ return to their home floor, but when Donovan Gregory’s layup went through, the floodgates opened in a big way as App State’s 19-2 run through the first 6:40 blew the game open immediately. The Mountaineer defense held the Monarchs to just one made field goal during that stretch as ODU started with just one made field goal in their first 13 shot attempts.

Terence Harcum and Justin Abson’s two-point buckets just before the first media break jolted the Holmes Center crowd as Abson’s dunk brought the crowd of 4,785 to its feet. Then, it was Spillers’ turn to ignite the crowd as his effort on the offensive glass turned into an and-1 layup to push the early lead to seven.

As ODU continued to struggle, the Mountaineers took full advantage as they drained seven of eight shots to cap off the run. A pair of long threes by Terence Harcum and Christopher Mantis extended the lead to 17 before the Monarchs finally ended the run. App State continued to run away with the game as Spillers’ second-chance layup pushed the lead to 19 by the under-12 timeout.

App State would take a 22-point first-half lead after Mantis buried a transition three off a turnover to give him his third three of the half. CJ Huntley got involved with his first field goal and the Mountaineers led by 21 at the under-eight break.

The Mountaineer depth was in full effect in the first half as eight of the nine guys scored a basket in the first 20 minutes. Jordan Marsh’s layup at the 6:08 mark brought the lead back up to 22 and then Gregory’s seventh points of the half extended it to 24, which was the largest to that point.

Powering to the end of the half, the Mountaineers capped off their dazzling performance by making four of their last six shots, eclipsing the 50-point mark at the horn courtesy of Spillers’ putback layup. It was the first time since Dec. 5 against Central Penn that the Mountaineers have scored at least 50 points in the first half.

Six players tallied at least five points in the first half with Spillers’ 11 points and 12 rebounds leading the way. Spillers’ first-half double-double was his ninth this season, which is the most by a single player in a season since Isaac Butts tallied nine in 2009-10. Gregory and Mantis both finished the frame with nine while Mantis’ three three-pointers were his most in a game since Jan. 25.

A pair of Abson free throws extended the lead to 25 in the early stages of the final frame as ODU couldn’t find a halftime answer to stop the bleeding. Myles Tate’s layup at the 16:28 mark ballooned the lead to 27 points before the first media break as the Mountaineers poured it on.

Xavion Brown got his night going with a layup at the 15:08 mark, making it 16 games this season where at least nine Mountaineers have scored. Despite App State’s commanding lead, the Monarchs worked to cut into the deficit and did just that, trimming the lead back to 24 by the under-12 timeout.

The Monarchs then went on a brief spurt to trim the Mountaineer lead to within 20 as ODU buried five straight field goals before calling a timeout to go on a 12-5 run. The deficit got down to as little as 15 thanks to Tyrone Williams’ three, which was the closest the game was since it was 16-2 in the first half. The Monarchs made six straight field goals during their run.

Even with ODU’s strong run, the Mountaineers were able to reclaim a 20-point lead by the under-eight break, using Harcum’s tough layup through contact to regain their composure. Harcum’s layup provided all the remedy the Black and Gold needed and sparked a 7-0 run that was punctuated by Gregory’s thunderous driving dunk to push the lead back to 26.

Mantis’ fourth three of the game put the icing on the cake as App State went ahead by 24 with under two minutes to play and Coach Kerns emptied his bench, allowing Josh Hayes, Luke Ledford and Bryant Greene to get their first minutes since Jan. 20. When the final horn sounded, the Mountaineers claimed a 25-point win, marking their eighth win this season by at least 20 points.

Four more Mountaineers reached double figures on Wednesday, marking the 36th consecutive game that App State has seen at least two players reach double-digits. Tre’Von Spillers’ 18-point, 16-rebound performance paced all scorers. His 16 boards were a season-high and tied Xavion Brown’s mark against Central Penn as the highest rebounding game by a Mountaineer this season. Christopher Mantis broke out of his shooting slump in a big way, drilling four threes which led to 12 points. It was his first double-digit point outing since Jan. 20. Both Donovan Gregory and Terence Harcum recorded 11 points while also being +21 and +20 respectively in their minutes.

App State wraps up its home and regular season schedule on Friday against Arkansas State, looking to claim an outright Sun Belt Conference regular season title. Friday’s game is senior night, and the Mountaineers will honor Donovan Gregory, Bryant Greene and CJ Huntley. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+