On the very last possession of the semifinal game, the Appalachian State men’s basketball team saw themselves down by three with four seconds on the clock and a chance to force overtime.
The ball was passed in to Mike Neal who got a screen from Nathan Healy who popped to the 3-point line. The shot went up by Healy but rimmed out to give Davidson the 65-62 win.
“This is a tough one to swallow,” head coach Jason Capel said. “I sit up here very proud to be the coach of this team and proud of the resilience of this team to fight through adversity.”
Davidson was able to score first to start the game but Appalachian would play good defense to open up their lead to 11 (20-9) with 9:48 remaining.
Both Mike Obacha and Tevin Baskin would get into foul trouble early and Davidson’s Jake Cohen would make them pay for it, scoring 13 first-half points.
Davidson broke the gap with 3:08 remaining in the first half and pulled within four (28-24). App State would allow another score and went into the locker room leading by two.
Healy led the Mountaineers in the first half with eight points, three rebounds and a block. Mike Neal led the Mountaineers in points with nine.
Davidson scored first coming out of the half, but App State would put together a string of field goals and free throws to take the eight-point lead (36-28) with 16:47 remaining in the second half.
App State forced a timeout just a minute later after a Jay Canty 3-pointer that extended the lead to 11. The Wildcats went on a run of their own closing the gap to three (41-38) with 12:32 remaining in the game.
The Wildcats tied the game up at 47 with nine minutes remaining and took their first lead since 3-0. The Wildcats led 49-47.
The two teams traded baskets until the Wildcats cashed in for two shots behind the 3-point line and held a six-point lead (57-51). The Mountaineers went on a run to tie the game back up at 57 until the Wildcats’ De’Mon Brooks scored to give them back the lead.
App State had a chance to pull within two points with 30 seconds left on the clock, but a missed shot would force the Mountaineers to foul. Cohen hit two free throws, but Tab Hamilton connected in a 3-pointer to close the gap within three (65-62).
Davidson missed the front end of a one-and-one, which gave the Mountaineers one last chance to tie the game. Healy pulled up on a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer but it rimmed out.
“I would have liked to catch the ball more closer to the line,” Healy said. “But it was still a good look. It just didn’t go in.”
Healy led the Mountaineers with 14 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Cohen led the Wildcats with 17 points, two rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Capel said. “Obviously the season is bittersweet because the reality is that you would never get to coach some of these guys again. But I’m proud of the things this team was able to accomplish.”Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Editor
Photo: Justin Perry, Photo Editor