Men’s basketball opens Gulf Coast Showcase against Delaware


Hiatt Ellis

Super senior guard Michael Almonacy rises for a three-point attempt against Charlotte. Almonacy scored five points on 22% shooting against the 49ers.

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

App State men’s basketball tips off the Gulf Coast Showcase Monday against Delaware in Estero, Florida. The Mountaineers currently sit at 2-2 following a one-point loss at home against Charlotte. 

After a 12-point season-opening loss at Iona, App State returned home to take on East Tennessee State in the Holmes Center Nov. 12. In their first home game since hoisting the Sun Belt Championship trophy, the Mountaineers boasted their largest home crowd since the 2011-12 season. 

“It was just special. Just from last year, having 25-max fans to a packed crowd, it was just special,” junior forward Donovan Gregory said. “They helped us get through the game.”

Super senior guard Justin Forrest pulls up for a mid-range jumper against ETSU. Forrest knocked down 6/6 free throws, boosting the Mountaineers to a two-point win. (Hiatt Ellis)

The Black and Gold outlasted the Buccaneers 69-67, winning their eighth consecutive home opener. Senior guard Adrian Delph posted 19 points and 7 rebounds en route to the narrow victory. 

“Couldn’t be more proud in our team,” Delph said. “That’s the way to start the home opener.”

App State dismantled William Peace 98-49 Nov. 15 before welcoming Charlotte to Boone for its third-straight home game Thursday. Despite facing a 17-point deficit five minutes into the second half, the Mountaineers battled to take the lead over the 49ers at the 7:45 mark. 

Down by one, super senior guard Justin Forrest attacked the paint, getting a shot up through contact, but no foul was called, and the attempt was no good. The 49ers survived the Mountaineers’ comeback and won 67-66.

“That was a great college basketball game. Great atmosphere,” head coach Dustin Kerns said. “But the ball didn’t bounce our way at the end, and that’s how the game goes.”  

App State travels to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase Monday, a three-day tournament featuring the Mountaineers, the Akron Zips, the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens, the Fordham Rams, the Evansville Purple Aces, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, the Rice Owls and the Vermont Catamounts. Following their matchup with Delaware, the Mountaineers will take on either Akron or Fordham. 

The early season tournament will pose a good challenge for the Mountaineers after splitting their first four games. Iona, ETSU and Charlotte have all had recent success at the mid-major level, so three tight games against such competition confirmed App State will continue to compete with the best at this level after their NCAA tournament run in 2020-21. 

The Mountaineers and Fightin’ Blue Hens tip off at 7:30 p.m. Monday and can be seen live on FloHoops.