Girls Catawba Valley Athletic 2A Conference East Burke: 68 Newton-Conover: 39 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Watauga:…
It was a snowy Saturday afternoon in the High Country, but that didn’t stop a packed out Holmes Center from seeing App State rout Coastal Carolina 88-59 at home. The 29-point win marks the Mountaineers’ second-largest win over a current Sun Belt opponent.
With the win, App State (15-4, 6-1 SBC) claimed sole possession of first place in the SBC and is a full game up on both Southern Miss and Troy. The win also marks App State’s eighth home win this season, which is the second-most in the Sun Belt. App State is the lone remaining undefeated team at home in the conference.
All 13 active Mountaineers saw the floor in the blowout win and six different players reached double-figures. Christopher Mantis, Jordan Marsh and CJ Huntley each recorded double-digit nights off the bench, leading to 37 bench points, which is the most points scored by the second unit since Dec. 5.
It was yet another dominant outing for the Mountaineers against the Chanticleers as the Black and Gold never trailed and led for all but 34 seconds in the contest. From the moment that Justin Abson nailed a layup in the paint, the large crowd was into the game and the Mountaineers fed off the energy.
After John Ojiako tied the game at two apiece, the Mountaineers sprinted ahead by double-digits thanks to a 12-0 run over the next five minutes. Six different Mountaineers scored during the run. CJ Huntley capped off the strong stretch with a thunderous one-handed slam over two defenders that brought the Holmes crowd to its feet.
Shortly after another Ojiako bucket to trim the Mountaineer lead to eight, Jordan Marsh scored his first bucket of the game, drilling a three to give App State a 13-point lead, which was the largest of the game to that point. Huntley slammed home another rim-rattling slam just over a minute later to send the Mountaineers into the under-eight timeout up by 13.
But the Chanticleers used a brief spurt of their own to climb back within single digits as Jon Sanders, Ian Granja and Miroslav Stafl each netted buckets to cut the lead back to seven. Despite the quick Chanticleer run, Gregory and the Mountaineers extended the lead to as large as 15 points by the last media break of the first frame. Gregory notched four of his seven first-half points during the run.
Coastal Carolina found a rhythm out of the last media break, scoring eight of the last 13 points to close the half, but regardless, the Mountaineers dominated the first 20 minutes and took a 10-point lead into the locker room. Tre’Von Spillers nailed a put-back layup with one second to play to give App State 40 first-half points.
The Mountaineer offense picked their spots well and shot 51 percent from the floor in the first frame. All but one player who saw the floor for App State in the first half recorded a basket, with Gregory leading the way, scoring seven. Defensively, App State held the Chanticleers to just 35 percent shooting in the first half while outrebounding them by eight.
It was all Mountaineers out of the break as App State imposed its will over Coastal Carolina in the first four minutes and jumped ahead by 23 points by the first media break. The Mountaineers held the Chanticleers scoreless for the first 4:43 of the final frame while nailing six of their first seven shots.
Igniting the crowd, Gregory made two highlight-reel plays almost consecutively during App State’s 13-0 run as he dished out two full-court passes to Spillers who finished off the play with dunks on the other end. Gregory played the role of floor general well tonight as he dished out a season-best six assists.
The lead grew out of the media break as Spillers tallied another basket to give the Mountaineers a 25-point lead at the 15:35 mark. Shortly after Spillers’ basket, Huntley banked in a three from the top of the key to push the lead to 26 points.
Unrelenting, App State continued to be physical with Coastal Carolina as Terence Harcum made his way into the paint for a tough finish through contact for his 10th points of the game. Huntley blocked a shot on the other end of the floor, which resulted in a Marsh layup right before the under-12 media break.
Just after the last media timeout, the App State lead jumped above 30 as Mantis went on a 10-0 individual run over a two-minute stretch to ignite the crowd. Mantis played his best game against a conference opponent, scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting.
Up by 31 with 90 seconds to play, Coach Kerns emptied his bench, giving Bryant Greene, Josh Hayes, Dawson Fennema and Luke Ledford their first minutes since Jan. 11. When the final horn sounded, the Mountaineers claimed a convincing 29-point win, and vaulted into first place in the Sun Belt with their sixth conference win.
Six Mountaineers reached the 10-point threshold against the Chanticleers and nine players scored a basket for the 12th time this season. Leading the offensive charge for the eighth time this season was Tre’Von Spillers, who tallied a game-high 18 points on 9-11 shooting while also grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots. Providing a spark off the bench was CJ Huntley, who netted 13 points and sent the home crowd into an uproar on multiple occasions with a pair of thunderous slams. Donovan Gregory also scored 13 points but made his impact felt as a passer and a defender as he dished out a season-best six assists to go along with three steals and two blocks.
The Mountaineers will welcome the Georgia Southern Eagles to the Holmes Center next Thursday for the first of two meetings between the Mountaineers and Eagles this season. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.