App State men’s basketball knocks off Little Rock 67-60 in Sun Belt first round


Andy McLean

App State sophomore wing Donovan Gregory drives during a 56-54 loss to South Alabama Feb. 20 in Boone. Gregory scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added four assists in the Mountaineers 67-60 win over Little Rock in the first round of the Sun Belt tourney Friday.

Alex McCaskey, Reporter

In the first round of the Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball tournament on Friday, the fourth-seeded East division Mountaineers defeated the fifth-seeded West division Little Rock Trojans 67-60 in the final game of the night in Pensacola, Florida. 

The Mountaineers came into the tournament with a 13-11 overall record and a 7-8 record in conference play, while Little Rock came into the game 11-4 overall and 7-11 in conference play.

The first half was close throughout, with the Mountaineers leading 30-29 at the half. Little Rock had bigger players on the inside, which led the Mountaineers to make eight 3-pointers in the first half.

“If you go in there and try to score them in there, they guard the basket, the interior defense very, very well,” App State head coach Dustin Kerns said.

The second half started slow, with the Mountaineers only hitting one of their first six shots. The Mountaineers pulled away with a 7-point lead around the nine-minute mark. Little Rock cut the Mountaineer lead to five with more than three minutes to go. 

With just under two minutes to go, sophomore wing Donovan Gregory threw down a powerful dunk to push the App State lead to nine at 60-51. The Mountaineers held on, advancing to play the West division’s No. 1 seed, Texas State, in the quarterfinals. 

Senior guard Justin Forrest led the Mountaineers in scoring and tied his season high  with 24 points. Junior guard Adrian Delph also contributed 14 points and five rebounds. Graduate student guard Michael Almonacy led the team in rebounds, with seven, in addition to his 13 points. Almonacy also tallied seven assists in addition to playing tough defense, coming up with four steals.

“I thought he was really good, I thought he was really good defensively, I thought he was focused in,” Kerns said.