Non-conference Alexander Central: 3 Mooresville: 0 Bandys: 11 Forestview: 1 Draughn: 2 Ashe County: 0…
Despite a poor shooting first half, the App State Mountaineers rallied for a 51-point second half against Gardner-Webb (5-7) to pick up an 80-59 win on Saturday at the Novant Health Fieldhouse. The Mountaineers shot an astounding 61 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes while draining six threes to secure the win.
With the win, the Mountaineers (9-2) extended their winning streak to eight games, which extends the longest winning streak under head coach Dustin Kerns. The win also marks the seventh straight win over a Division I opponent, which is the longest winning streak against Division I opponents in Kerns’ tenure.
After trailing for all but 34 seconds in the first half, a Terence Harcum three-pointer just 24 seconds into the second half gave App State the lead for good on Saturday. The Mountaineers have trailed for just over 43 minutes of a possible 340 during their eight-game winning streak.
It was a sluggish start for App State to begin the game as they shot just 39 percent in the first half while missing all eight threes. The Mountaineers trailed from the 19:02 mark on in the first frame as Gardner-Webb started out hot from the field.
Xavion Brown got the scoring started on Saturday for the Mountaineers as he deposited a tip-in layup off a Donovan Gregory missed jumper. Brown would score six points on the day, all in the first half.
The Bulldogs got out to a quick 7-2 lead after a Julien Soumaoro three-pointer and four points by Caleb Robinson. The Bulldogs would maintain their lead throughout the next few minutes as App State struggled from the floor.
A Gregory layup with 11:11 to play in the first half would cut the Bulldog lead to just two points as play entered the under-12 media break, but the Bulldogs continued to make plays and extended their lead to six, which was their largest lead of the half, with nine minutes to play. DQ Nicholas and Quest Aldridge would combine to score four points in a row to push the lead.
App State would remain resilient despite the shooting woes and cut the Gardner-Webb lead to just one point at the last media break. Terence Harcum, who tallied another double-digit scoring night, drilled a layup to give App State some life as the first half wound down.
The Bulldogs would push their lead back up to five as play neared halftime, but App State battled back to trim the lead to just two as the first-half horn sounded. It was a sluggish first half from Coach Kerns’ squad, but the Black & Gold showed grit to trim the deficit and keep themselves in the contest.
Depth has been a huge story for App State this season, and that trend continued as Jordan Marsh led the way for the Mountaineers offensively in the first 20 minutes. Marsh shot 3-4 from the field while also pulling down three rebounds. Quest Aldridge paced the Bulldogs with eight first-half points.
As if struck by lightning in the locker room, the Mountaineers came out of the halftime break with a new fire and immediately punched back at the Bulldogs’ strong first-half start. Harcum drilled a three-pointer just 24 seconds into play to give App State its first lead since it was 2-0 in the early stages of the game. The Mountaineers would never trail again.
Three straight threes by App State would ignite the bench and the Mountaineer faithful who made the trip down the mountain as App State pushed its lead to five. Harcum would continue his hot start to the final frame as he would hit a contested jumper in the paint off a Soumaoro turnover to give App State a seven-point lead.
Shortly after the Bulldogs cut the lead back to five, App State would go on an extended 21-4 run to blow the game wide open and take a 20-point lead. App State, who has led by at least 10 points in seven consecutive games, extended that streak today as a Christopher Mantis three-pointer would propel the lead to 20 with nine minutes to play.
The lead would grow to as much as 22 points after CJ Huntley slammed the ball home to give him seven points for the game. The lead would fluctuate between 22 and 18 over the next several minutes but would never fall below 18 points for the rest of the game.
With a comfortable lead, App State emptied its bench to close out the game as Bryant Greene, Dawson Fennema and Luke Ledford made their second appearance in the last three games. When the clock hit zero, the Mountaineers had pulled off a convincing 21-point victory.
It was a tale of two halves in Greensboro on Saturday as the Black & Gold turned a poor first-half performance into a dominant second-half showing. App State would drill six second-half threes after making none in the first half and shot 61 percent from the floor. It was a remarkable turnaround by Coach Kerns’ squad to secure their eighth win in a row.
Three Mountaineers notched double-digit scoring nights in the win on Saturday, making it 10 of 11 games this season to see at least three Mountaineers score double-digits. Tre’Von Spillers led the way with 16 points on 8-11 shooting. Saturday was the fifth time already this season that Spillers has led the team in scoring. Harcum used a stellar second half to finish with 12 points as he scored 10 of those 12 in the final frame. Harcum also posted his best shooting night of the season as he drained five of nine shots. Rounding out the trio of Mountaineers to finish with double-digits was Jordan Marsh, who finished with 11.
App State will have the next five days to prepare for the UNC Asheville Bulldogs in The Hickory Hoops Classic to conclude its three-game stretch of games played in cities within 120 miles of Boone. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.