The team hoists up the regular season Sun Belt Championship award after their game against Arkansas State March 1. With a 26-5 regular season record, App State earns their first ever title in the Sun Belt division since joining for the 2014-15 season.
The team hoists up the regular season Sun Belt Championship award after their game against Arkansas State March 1. With a 26-5 regular season record, App State earns their first ever title in the Sun Belt division since joining for the 2014-15 season.
Landon Williams

Mountaineers clinch Sun Belt title with win over Red Wolves

While rain poured throughout Boone, App State capped off its 2023-24 regular season with a 80-57 win over Arkansas State on senior day, securing their first Sun Belt regular season title and first undefeated-at-home season since 1966-67.

Junior guard Myles Tate cuts down a piece of the net March 1. Tate averaged 9.4 points per game and scored a career-high 25 points against Marshall Feb. 25. (Landon Williams)

“Just an awesome night for App State University and our athletic program,” said head coach Dustin Kerns. “I want to congratulate our team, our players are the most important part of the program. We’ve got great players, but most importantly we’ve got great people.”

Prior to tip-off, graduate student forward Donovan Gregory, graduate student guard Bryant Greene and senior forward CJ Huntley were honored as a part of senior day. Each received their own framed jersey and highlight video played in front of the Holmes Convocation Center crowd. 

“It’s been very surreal for all of us,” Greene said. 

Gregory, App State’s all-time leader in wins, finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists. Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers posted 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Huntley finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Terence Harcum was the Black and Gold’s fourth double-digit scorer at 10 points.

Gregory and Huntley opened the game strong, combining to score 14 of App State’s first 19 points before the first media timeout. 

“Seeing the crowd and everybody,” Huntley said about his fast start. “I felt juiced, ready to play.”

Arkansas State responded to the Mountaineers’ opening surge, cutting the lead to six points by shooting 5-5 in a two minute stretch.

The two teams battled back and forth for the rest of the half as the Black and Gold took a 43-29 lead at halftime. Huntley, Gregory and Harcum combined for 27 first-half points.

App State shot 44% from the field and 57% from three on 14 attempts. They limited the Red Wolves to 34% and 20% shooting splits and forced six turnovers. Despite the advantage on the scoreboard, Arkansas State outrebounded the Mountaineers 23-22. 

Both teams started the second half slowly, with multiple missed shots and turnovers from both sides. The Red Wolves switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, making it hard for App State to find open scoring opportunities.

After the under-12 media timeout, the Black and Gold began to separate themselves. A couple of baskets in transition along with some free throws, gave the Mountaineers a 64-46 lead with 7:50 remaining.

Arkansas State couldn’t keep pace as App State cruised to an 80-57 win on the final day of the regular season.

With the victory, App State moves to 26-5, the most wins in program history and 16-2 in the Sun Belt. It marks the first time they have won their conference outright since 1978-79.

“It’s a crazy feeling,” Gregory said. “This is what we put the work in for.”

In a day full of records, the Holmes Convocation Center set a new program attendance record with three of its top five most attended games coming this season.

“We couldn’t have done it without our awesome students and fans,” Kerns said. “15-0 at home and our fans and students are a major part of that.”

Next up for App State is the Sun Belt Tournament in Pensacola, Florida. Due to being the No. 1 seed, the Mountaineers have a double-bye and will play in the quarterfinals March 9 at 12:30 p.m. The opponent will be determined the day prior and can be streamed on ESPN+.

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