A lack of scoring options haunted App State men’s basketball on Saturday as they lost 83-67 to UT-Arlington (16-5, 6-2 Sun Belt) for the second time this season.
App State (6-13,1-7 Sun Belt) came out of the gate shooting great, hitting a majority of their shots early before cooling off right before the half. They controlled the first half, shooting 46.2 percent from the field, while hitting 5-of-14 3-pointers.
The Apps came out with sophomore guard Ronshad Shabazz carrying the load offensively, while UT-Arlington used Kevin Hervey, Kaelon Wilson and Jalen Jones for spark in the first-half.
Shabazz was perfect after his first five shots and ended the first-half shooting 80 percent for 21 points. He would end his day with 33 points and five rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting. Junior forward Griffin Kinney worked hard on the glass, ending with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year.
Scoring for App came almost exclusively from the starters, while the bench contributed just 16 points. This would become an issue as Shabazz was focused on more defensively in the second-half, leaving App lacking their biggest offensive weapon.
“We need guys on our bench to step up, it’s an outstanding opportunity for them,” head coach Jim Fox said. “It’s like a pinch-hitter in baseball, you sit there, and you’ve got to go make plays. I thought Matt [O’Boyle] gave us good minutes off the bench, but we’ve got to get other guys stepping up.”
The ability to use multiple scoring options in the half-court would be the determining factor on the day, as UT-Arlington was able to get major contributions from multiple starters, and another 31 points off the bench.
UT Arlington was boosted offensively by Hervey’s double-double of 22 points and 13 rebounds. They were also helped by Wilson with 17 points, Drew Charles and Jones, who both had 11 points.
App could not find a way to stop the potent Maverick offense, who had many different options on the day. This was the theme of the day, with the two offenses showing their differences as time went on.
After the half the Mountaineers looked like a different team, having been outscored 59-35. The game seemed to speed up in the second-half, as the Mavericks gained footing in their post-game and showed off their 3-point shooting, shooting a sweltering 60 percent from behind the arc.
“They try to go downhill a lot, that’s normally their game,” Shabazz said. “First-half, we clogged the lane, and then in the second-half they started hitting shots. We had to play both once they start hitting shots. They’re a good shooting team, so we had to play the shots, then they started going downhill a lot.
Once App lost the lead at the 13:34 mark of the second-half, the Mavericks never looked back.
The lack of scoring from others hurt the Apps, who lacked a go-to scorer in the closing minutes.
App went on a scoring drought in the second half, while the Mavericks found steady scoring in Hervey and Wilson.
The foul-heavy closing minutes showed another difference on the day, as App only hit 60 percent of their free-throws, while the Mavericks seemed to never miss, shooting 17-for-21, for 81 percent.
The Mountaineers look to rebound on Monday, as they take on Texas State at 7 p.m. at home, before heading to Jonesboro for a game against Arkansas State, on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Story By: Jay Boyd, Sports Reporter
Three Pointer Reaction By: Jason Huber, Sports Editor
App State men’s basketball couldn’t hold on to a 15 point first half lead and a strong performance by sophomore guard Ronshad Shabazz falling 83-67 to UT Arlington at the Holmes Center on Saturday afternoon. A poor bench performance, missed free throws and a miserable defensive second half ultimately allowed the Mavericks to creep back into the game and win by 16.
Shabazz started the game with four straight 3-pointers and shot five-for-six from the field in first ten minutes.
Shabazz broke his career high 3-pointers made in a game with eight and finished the game with 33 points, just three points shy from his career high.
The Mountaineers held the UTA offense in check the first half holding them to 31 percent shooting from the field.
App out blocked the Mavs 4-1.
Griffin Kinney picked up a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
The Mountaineers held a 15-point lead and had a 32-24 halftime lead.
The Apps committed 16 turnovers for 17 UTA points.
UTA scored 34 points in the paint to the Mountaineers 12.
The Mountaineers shot 34.6 percent from the field in the second half after shooting almost 50 percent in the first.
Shabazz started the game hot, hitting his first four shots and finishing the game with 33 points.
Shabazz hit a career-high eight 3-pointers.
He is now averaging 29 points and 6.3 rebounds over the Mountaineers last three games.
Too much Hervey
UT Arlington forward Kevin Hervey scored 21 points against the Mountaineers last month and scored 22 points on Saturday along with 13 points.
Hervey made sure the Mountaineers could not get back into the game with late shots to keep the UTA lead.
Free throw struggles
Both teams seemed to struggle from the charity stripe. App shot 37.5 percent in the first half and the Mavs shot 41.7 percent.
In the second half the Mountaineers shot better down the stretch to bring their total to 53.6 percent.
The Mavs went 81 percent in the second half to finish at 66.7 percent.
Isaac Johnson was one of the Mountaineers players to struggle going only 5-for-12.
App State will face Texas State on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Holmes Center before they hit the road to play Arkansas State.
Photos By: Halle Keighton, Photo Editor