Despite being the first game of the season, which was an exhibition, the Appalachian State men’s basketball team dominated the visiting Warren Wilson Owls in a 126-71 blowout. For the Mountaineers, it was their first and only preseason exhibition game, while the Owls came into the game with a 1-2 record.
A big talking point from the game was Warren Wilson’s offense and its drastic imbalance. The Owls attempted to make up for their lack of size with a barrage of three-point shots, taking 26 in the first half and another 20 in the second. Despite the dedication to shooting beyond the arc, the team only shot 30.4 percent from range, which did not help their 30.1 percent total field goal percentage. According to head coach Jim Fox, the Mountaineers knew what kind of team they were going to be facing.
“They were just getting the ball and jacking it up,” Fox said. “[I] kind of knew that was going to happen, kind of knew they were going to make some and that’s what happened.”
App jumped out to an early 22-9 run with 14 minutes left in the first half, led by junior guard Ronshad Shabazz’s early-game success. Only 13 minutes into the game, Shabazz had already accumulated 15 points on 5-8 shooting. The Mountaineers as a whole shot an impressive 55.6 percent from the field, but were held back by their meager 59 percent from the free-throw line.
By the end of the first half, the Mountaineers led 56-34 as Warren Wilson would not attempt to drive the ball inside against a team with a much bigger lineup, while shooting 8/26 from beyond the arc. They responded by starting the second half with a feverish pace and an aggressive transition offense, going on a 10-2 run in the opening minutes. App responded with a tenacious defense anchored by redshirt junior center Jake Wilson. The 7-footer had two blocks in only nine minutes, and the team had eight total in the game.
Despite Warren Wilson’s best efforts, the highlight of the second half was sophomore guard O’Showen Williams, who had eight points, five assists and two steals in seven minutes of the half.
“We go through the same offense repeatedly,” Williams said. “So, I trust where my teammates are and just get the ball to them, and trust that they’ll knock down shots.”
The Mountaineers turned their offense up in the second half and turned a strong lead into a mighty blowout. They shot 59 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc as they put up 70 points in the second half alone, one less than Warren Wilson scored all game. By the final buzzer, the score was 126-71 and Appalachian had finished their preseason with an exclamation point.
The Mountaineers will look forward to hosting Toccoa Falls on Nov. 11 for the start of their regular season.
Story By: Ian Taylor, Sports Reporter
Photos By: Lindsay Vaughn