Burgess three pointer gives Appalachian 64-62 win in overtime

Michael Bragg

Freshman point guard Burgess hit a three pointer with 12 seconds left in overtime to give the Mountaineers a 64-62 victory over Georgia Southern Thursday at the Holmes Convocation Center.

The Mountaineers led by 13 (33-20) at halftime and had their largest lead by 17 in the second half, but Georgia Southern would play full-court defense and went on a 24-10 run to tie the game.

The Mountaineers were without forward Jay Canty, who left with a thumb injury early in the first half, and Mike Neal, who left with a lower leg injury midway through the second half.

The first few minutes of the game were sloppy. Both teams combined for four turnovers within the first five minutes of the game. Georgia Southern was able to tie the game (4-4) but a Jamaal Trice tip-in gave Appalachian the lead (6-4).

At the third media timeout, Appalachian led the Eagles 21-8. The Eagles went on a 10-5 run to close within eight (26-18). Nathan Healy connected on a three-pointer to quiet that run.

The Mountaineers went into the locker room with a 13-point lead (33-20). Trice led all scorers at the half with six points. The Mountaineers shot 45 percent in the first half. Cleon Roberts led the Eagles with five points.

Appalachian came out of the locker room on four-point run until Eric Ferguson hit a three pointer to make the score 37-23.

The full-court pressure would rattle Appalachian. The defense helped the Eagles pull within three points with 58.6 remaining.

Burgess hit four clutch free throws with less than 30 seconds remaining to keep the lead at five (57-52) for the Mountaineers, but the Eagles cut that to 57-54 on the next possession. Missed free throws and a clutch three pointer by Georgia Southern’s C.J. Reed would send the game into overtime.

The Eagles would take a 62-61 lead off a pair of free throws, however Burgess would pull up from the left wing and hit the shot. The Eagles would have a few attempts to win the game but both shots missed to give Appalachian the one-point win.

“My daddy always taught me all wins are good wins,” head coach Jason Capel said. “We made a lot of mistakes and had some breakdowns down the stretch but we fought, stayed together and we won.”

Nathan Healy led the way for the Mountaineers with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Michael Obacha also recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I’m proud of this team, especially after what happened last Thursday [against Chattanooga],” Nealy said. “To step up and hit a big shot like that and get us back on the winning track, speaks volumes to the guys in the locker room.

Burgess added 12 points off the bench and said the would-be game-winning shot felt good when it left his hands.

“The team was in a 1-3-1 defense and I was trying get the ball to Nate so we could get a quick shot,” Burgess said. “So I passes the ball to Jamaal and he passes it back and I saw time was running out. We needed a big shot so I stepped up, shot the ball and it went in.”

The Mountaineers played conference rivals Davidson Saturday at the Holmes Center and fell 79-56.

Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Reporter