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Donovan Gregory
Donovan Gregory led the Mountaineers with 22 points.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Men’s Basketball Picks Up Home Win

It was a close first half in Boone with the App State Mountaineers taking a slim two-point lead into the halftime break, but the Mountaineer defense turned up the intensity in the second half to pull away from the Marshall Thundering Herd and claim a 73-58 win at the Holmes Center on Thursday.

The Mountaineers (21-5, 11-2 SBC) started strong and finished strong against Marshall (12-14, 7-6 SBC), building a large lead in both halves. App State led by as much as 18 points in the game and used a 15-4 run to take a commanding lead late and never looked back.

App State’s defensive intensity was on high in the win as the Mountaineers held the Herd to its third-lowest field goal percentage of the season at 32.8 percent. The smothering defense of App State was especially prevalent on the Herd’s leading scorer, Obinna Anochili-Killen, who scored a season-low three points on 1-14 shooting. Marshall’s 58 points were the second-fewest it has scored this season. App State was in every passing lane and contested every Marshall shot as the Mountaineers tallied eight steals and six blocks in the game.

All nine players who saw the floor for App State recorded a point, marking the 15th time this season that at least nine players have scored in a game for the Mountaineers. Donovan Gregory produced a game-high 19 points and sits just one point away from the top 15 of App State’s all-time points list.

In the second leg of a three-game homestand, it was Justin Abson who got the night started for the Mountaineers, finding a seam in the defense and laying home a basket. The Herd answered to take the lead thanks to a Curfman three-pointer, but a floating jumper by Gregory gave the Mountaineers the lead back as play hit the first media break.

App State came out on fire from the break as Gregory scored again and sparked a 7-0 run to propel App State ahead by eight at the 13:33 mark. Three different Mountaineers scored during the run, but it was the defense that helped maintain the spurt as Marshall missed three straight shots, which allowed App State to jump in front.

The Mountaineer lead grew to a first-half high nine points after Christopher Mantis drilled a three in transition off a pretty find by Xavion Brown. The Herd worked to trim the deficit, grabbing three offensive rebounds on their next possession which paid off with a Voyles three and App State led by just four by the under-eight break.

Marshall tied the game at 20 after Anochili-Killen’s first and only basket fell through. Despite a sharp start to the game, the Mountaineer offense struggled in the middle half of the first frame, which allowed Marshall to trim the deficit.

Despite a good stretch by Marshall, App State regained the lead by the 4:41 mark, jumping ahead by five thanks to a three from Jordan Marsh. Two straight threes by Marsh and Myles Tate helped break the brief funk on the offensive end for the Mountaineers as App State led by the final media timeout.

A pair of free throws by Gregory helped extend the lead to six with two minutes to play, but App State went cold to end the half and Marshall capitalized, scoring the final four points of the half. When the first-half horn sounded, the Mountaineers clung to a two-point lead.

Even with a few brief cold spells, App State shot it well in the first frame, shooting 46 percent while making three threes. Defensively is where App State shined as it held the Herd to just 10 made field goals on 33 percent shooting.

Donovan Gregory led all scorers in the first frame with nine on 4-7 shooting. Both Tre’Von Spillers and Terence Harcum finished with five.

The Mountaineer lead remained at two through the first few minutes of the final half, but a pair of buckets by Tate and Gregory sprung the lead back to six and ignited the Holmes Center crowd. The defense forced Marshall to miss seven of its first nine shots in the second half, which allowed the Mountaineers to pad their lead.

App State pushed its lead back to eight points after the first media timeout of the half, but it was the Herd who seized momentum through the next four minutes as a Voyles three-pointer brought the deficit back to just one point at the 12:41 mark. Voyles played well against the Mountaineers, scoring 19 points.

After the Herd cut the lead to one, it was Tate who helped calm the storm. His floater from just outside the lane pushed the Mountaineer advantage back to five by the under-12 timeout, which brought the crowd of 3,804 fans to its feet.

Marshall did well to keep it close, but the depth of the Mountaineers began to show its teeth and allowed App State to take a convincing lead. Spillers tallied a basket at the 8:12 mark, giving him his seventh double-double of the year and it was all App State after that.

The defensive intensity ramped up in the final stages of the second half as Abson swatted away a shot attempt by Anochili-Killen, which ignited a fastbreak opportunity for the Black and Gold. On the other end, Mantis found himself open with a lane to the basket and put up a jumper that missed, but Brown was there at the rim for a thunderous put-back slam that sent the crowd into a frenzy just before the under-eight break.

Two threes by Terence Harcum and a tough finish through contact by Spillers extended the App State lead to 16 at the 2:31 mark, which was its largest lead of the game to that point. The Mountaineers punctuated their 15-4 run with a two-handed punch from Justin Abson.

A long outlet pass from Gregory to Tate put the bow on this game as he laid in a layup to secure App State’s 21st win of the year. The 15-point win marked App State’s eighth double-digit win at home on the season.

All nine players recorded a basket for the Mountaineers, but it was Donovan Gregory who paced App State with 19 points on 8-13 shooting. Gregory filled the stat sheet, posting a season-best six steals while dishing out four assists. Tre’Von Spillers tallied his seventh double-double of the season in the win, scoring 14 points and grabbing a season-high 14 rebounds. Myles Tate’s 12 points cap off the trio of Mountaineers who finished in double-figures, but Tate’s auxiliary roles as a passer highlighted his night as he tallied five assists.

App State welcomes Louisiana to the Holmes Center in a battle against two of the top four teams in the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday. Saturday’s game will be a part of a doubleheader with the women’s team. The women’s game will tipoff at 2 p.m. with the men’s game to follow. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.