Cold shooting dooms men’s basketball in quarterfinals of SoCon tournament

Freshman Mike Neal puts up a runner over senior Aloysius Henry in Appalachians 65-55 loss to UNCG in the second round of the SoCon tournament. Paul Heckert | The Appalachian

Freshman Mike Neal puts up a runner over senior Aloysius Henry in Appalachian's 65-55 loss to UNCG in the second round of the SoCon tournament.  Paul Heckert  |  The Appalachian
Senior Isaac Butts scored a put-back layup with 9:03 remaining in the game to put Appalachian State up 51-46. Butts’s bucket was the last basket the Mountaineers would score from the floor, as UNC-Greensboro came roaring back to beat ASU 65-55 in the quarterfinal game of the SoCon tournament, ending Appalachian’s season.

Appalachian led by as many as 11 with just under 13 minutes to go, but the Mountaineers missed 18 of their last 19 shots, shooting just 20 percent in the second half. Isaac Butts was the lone Mountaineer who shot well, scoring 16 points on 8-10 shooting. Butts also grabbed 10 rebounds.

ASU carried their red-hot shooting from Friday’s game into the first half against UNCG. Appalachian led 39-32 at the midway point, and shot 52 percent. However, according to head coach Jason Capel, fatigue set in for the Mountaineers.

“I thought we did a good job to start the second half, and then I thought fatigue set it in. And then we stopped executing,” Capel said. “That being said, if we rebound the ball well, we’re not in the situation we’re in.”

ASU continued to perform well offensively early in the second half, hitting five of their first ten shots to extend their lead to 11, but the Mountaineers would not find their rhythm for the rest of the game. Isaac Butts, who was holding back tears at the post-game press conference, blamed a lack of execution on the offensive end for the Mountaineers demise.

UNCG also struggled from the field, shooting just 37 percent. The Spartans missed 10 free throws in the game. Trevis Simpson overcame an injured toe to lead UNCG in scoring with 16 points. Simpson threw down a monster windmill dunk at the end of the game to put the final nail in Appalachian’s coffin.

“I’ve been telling my teammates all year that if I get one by myself, I was going to do something with it,” Simpson said.

Freshmen guards Mike Neal and Tab Hamilton pulled a complete 180 degree turn from Friday’s game, combining for just 2-13 shooting. Hamilton went 0-6 from the floor, and did not attempt a free throw.

“I thought Michael did a really good job yesterday of turning the corner and getting to the basket and getting to the middle of the floor and making plays,” interim head coach Wes Miller said.  “I thought, not only did the guy on the ball do well… I thought the guys in the gaps did a really good job of supporting.”

The Mountaineers will lose four seniors to graduation: Isaac Butts, Omar Carter, Andre Williamson and Petey Hausley. Williamson got into early foul trouble, and scored just six points and grabbed nine rebounds in 29 minutes. Hausley did not enter the game.

The 2012-13 schedule has yet to be announced, but the Mountaineers will rely on returning forwards Jamaal Trice and Nathan Healy, along with Hamilton and Neal. The Mountaineers lone nationally ranked recruit Michael Obacha, a 6’8” forward from Oak Ridge Military Academy in North Carolina, is a two star recruit, according to

UNCG will play the winner of Western Carolina and Wofford Sunday night at 6 p.m.

Story: JAKE AMBERG, Sports Editor 
Photo: PAUL HECKERT, Intern Photographer