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App State basketball stays warm during students’ winter break

Graduate+student+Donovan+Gregory+shoots+over+a+ETSU+defender+Nov.+29%2C+2023.+Gregory+is+second+on+the+team+at+12.8+points+per+game.
Emily Simpson
Graduate student Donovan Gregory shoots over a ETSU defender Nov. 29, 2023. Gregory is second on the team at 12.8 points per game.

While App State students may have been on break for the past month, App State basketball continued to push forward. In the time the university was closed, the Mountaineers played eight games.

On Dec. 13, the Black and Gold traveled to Queens University in Charlotte to face the Royals. With under eight minutes in the first half, Queens tied the game at 25. After that moment, they were never close again.

 Producing more points in the paint and fewer turnovers was the key to success for App State in the 93-81 win. Graduate student forward Donovan Gregory missed one shot in a 22-point effort and senior forward CJ Huntley added 22 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

The Mountaineers then defeated Gardner-Webb 80-59 in a neutral site game in Greensboro. A 51-point second half allowed the Black and Gold to pull away. App State shot over 50% on all field goal attempts and limited Gardner-Webb to 35%. Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers led the way for the Mountaineers, playing 33 minutes and scoring 16 points, both team highs.

App State then faced UNC-Asheville in the Hickory Hoops Classic. The Bulldogs, an NCAA tournament team last year, shot 56% from beyond-the-arc compared to the Mountaineers’ 13%. App State tried to keep it close, but lost 76-63. The Black and Gold gave up a triple-double to Bulldogs’ fifth-year forward Drew Pember, and 33 points on 10-12 shooting from three to senior guard Josh Banks. For the Mountaineers, Gregory had 18 points while Spillers accounted for 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

App State bounced back in their first Sun Belt Conference game, defeating ULM 67-55 Dec. 30 in the first game back at Holmes Convocation Center in 25 days. In the last four minutes, the Mountaineers scored nine points and held the Warhawks scoreless. Four of the five App State starters scored in double-figures. Gregory led the way with 17 points while Spillers had 16 points, sophomore forward Justin Abson scored 13 and junior guard Terence Harcum added 10.

After a small break, the Mountaineers began a four-game road trip. The first was an overtime win against South Alabama 91-84. The Jaguars tied the game with a last-second dunk to end the second half. In overtime, it was all App State, the Black and Gold outscored their Sun Belt foe 9-2. 

It was another all-around scoring effort, but Spillers set himself apart with 23 points and nine rebounds. Other key performances included, Harcum with 15 points, Huntley scoring 14 off the bench, Gregory having 13 and junior guard Myles Tate putting in 13 points as a starter.

In a game against the Troy Trojans, the Mountaineers suffered their first conference loss, 66-62, in a back-and-forth game. App State made a late push, but the Trojans held them off in the final seconds of play. A key factor in the loss was the 14 turnovers committed by the Black and Gold. Huntley led the team in scoring with 13 while Abson contributed on the defensive end with 10 rebounds and four blocks.

In their next outing, App State defeated Coastal Carolina in a 70-45 blowout. The big win came on the shoulders of the Mountaineers’ paint control, totaling 10 more points in the paint and 10 more rebounds than the Chanticleers. The 25-point win was led by 13 points from Tate, 12 from Spillers and 10 from Harcum. In the dominating effort, head coach Dustin Kerns gave playing time to his reserves as well.

In their final game of the road trip, the Mountaineers matched up against the one-loss James Madison Dukes. App State forced the Dukes into shooting 36% from the field and 18% from three, winning the contest 59-55, despite 23 turnovers of their own. The Black and Gold took the lead early, but James Madison made it a close game toward the end of the second half. Tate scored four of his team-leading 15 points in the final 30 seconds, handing the Dukes their second loss. Abson contributed on both ends with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.  

While students enjoyed a break, the Mountaineers went 6-2 in several important games. App State now sits second in the Sun Belt rankings with a 4-1 conference record and a 13-4 overall record.

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About the Contributors
Kolby Shea, Reporter
Kolby Shea (he/him) is a senior journalism major, photography minor, from Statesville, NC. This is his second year writing for The Appalachian.
Emily Simpson, Associate Photo Editor
Emily Simpson (she/her) is a junior Commercial Photography major. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
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