Mountaineers burn Western Carolina, 74-65

Chelsey Fisher

Senior forward Nathan Healy set a career high in steals while tying his career high in points to help the Appalachian State men’s basketball team (9-12, 5-5 SoCon) beat conference rival Western Carolina (8-14, 5-5) 74-65 Saturday at the Holmes Convocation Center.

In a game where the Mountaineers never gave up the lead, Healy finished the game with 24 points, seven steals, eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists.

“Defense wins ballgames,” Healy said. “Sometimes it seems as if we aren’t doing well on offense, but it doesn’t matter because if we stop them we will still stay up. We could really put the game away with 40 minutes of good defense.”

Jay Canty and Tab Hamilton put on a show starting the game combining for 5-7 from the field and scored the first 12 points of the game and had the Mountaineers up 12-8 with 14:39 remaining.

The Mountaineers held on to the lead the rest of the half. Healy and Canty had 25 combined points at the half, 15 and 10 respectively. The Mountaineers held the Catamounts to 39.3 percent shooting and forced eight turnovers.

The second half was much like the first. Appalachian was able to use their defense to keep the lead.

Western Carolina was able to pull within one point with 2:06 remaining but Healy hit a clutch 3-pointer that would take the Mountaineers back up by four (68-64).

Appalachian hit free throws down the stretch to close the game and give them the win and allowed them to move up one spot in the North Division of the Southern Conference. The Mountaineers now only trail Elon and Samford.

“Western is a team that we have battled with over the year,” head coach Jason Capel said. “We let one slip away down at their place with the same situation of being up 10 at the half, but today we responded to adversity.”

Canty also contributed with an impressive stat line. He chimed in with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

“The win was very important,” Canty said. “I just wanted to come out with lots of energy and take the win.”

Appalachian State goes on the road to play Georgia Southern and Davidson next week before returning home Monday, Feb.11 to play Furman.

Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Reporter