Men’s basketball returns home for back-to-back wins

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Sophomore forward CJ Huntley throws down an alley-oop against Charlotte Nov. 18. Huntley scored 16 combined points against Hartford and Boyce.

Ethan Smith and James Parker

After posting a 1-2 record in the Gulf Coast Showcase, the Mountaineers returned to the Holmes Convocation Center for matchups against the Hartford Hawks and Boyce Bulldogs.

The Black and Gold were without senior forward James Lewis Jr. and sophomore guard Xavion Brown who were out with injuries.

App State controlled much of the first half, going up by 17 at one stretch before heading into halftime with a 38-23 lead. 

Sophomore guard Michael Eads Jr. led the Mountaineers with 13 points off the bench. Senior guard Adrian Delph led the starters with seven points and three rebounds. 

The defense generated 13 points off turnovers while holding the Hawks under 40% shooting from the field. The Mountaineer bench contributed 19 of the 38 first half points. App State shot 51.6% from the field and 40% from three-point range.

“I was pleased with our bench play,” head coach Dustin Kerns said.

In the second half, Hartford upped its defense, extending a full court press for much of the final period. The Mountaineers shot 37.1% from the floor and only made one of their 12 three-point attempts. Eads Jr. tacked on seven second half points to lead all scorers with 20, marking a new career high. 

“Just being confident and staying ready, we put in the work for it,” Eads Jr. said.

Hartford cut the lead to as low as nine but App State would hold on for the 69-59 victory. The Mountaineers improved to 4-4 on the season.

“Proud of Michael Eads, CJ Huntley, huge minutes there. Thought it was a good team effort,” Kerns said.

Delph finished with 12 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists, while junior forward Donovan Gregory added 11 points and six rebounds. Sophomore forward CJ Huntley contributed six points, seven rebounds and a handful of big plays in 25 minutes of game action.

The Mountaineers welcomed Boyce College to Boone Wednesday, defeating the Bulldogs 90-29. 

The Mountaineers started strong, taking an early 26-3 lead with 11:38 left in the first half. With Lewis Jr. out due to injury, App State’s starting lineup consisted of five perimeter players, leading to eight made three’s for the Black and Gold in the first half. 

The scoring run continued throughout the first half as the lead stretched to 38-7 with 3:34 left after a fast break dunk by Huntley. The Mountaineers entered halftime with a 46-10 lead.

Not only did the team shoot an efficient 46.2% from the field in the first half, but the Mountaineers played tight defense, allowing Boyce to score only 10 points in the half and grabbing four steals in the process.

“I thought we defended the three really well,” Kerns said. “I told our guys before the game, ‘It doesn’t matter who we are playing, we’ve got to go out and build our habits and get better defensively,’ and I thought we executed that.” 

App State shot even better from the field in the second half, hitting 51.4% of its shot attempts. Boyce Colleges shot slightly better in the second half than they did in the first, knocking down 20.6% of their shot attempts. 

The App State defense only allowed three made field goals in the final 11 minutes of the game, while the Mountaineer bench scored 37 second half points and 57 total points.

Super senior guard Michael Almonacy contributed 11 points along with three assists, while Eads Jr. scored nine points along with 10 rebounds and five assists.

The Black and Gold have eight days off before facing Furman Dec. 10.