Mountaineers come up short at NC State despite strong defensive effort

Junior+guard+Justin+Forrest+finished+with+a+game-high+25+points+in+App+State%27s+72-60+loss+at+NC+State+on+Dec.+29.+

Lynette Files

Junior guard Justin Forrest finished with a game-high 25 points in App State's 72-60 loss at NC State on Dec. 29.

Silas Albright, Sports Editor

Although App State fell to NC State 72-60 on Sunday, the Mountaineers trailed by two with just under 10 minutes left in the second half. 

“Basketball is a game of runs,” junior guard and leading scorer Justin Forrest said. “They went on more runs than we did, and it came down to a couple winning plays that we didn’t get.” 

Head coach Dustin Kerns also talked about those winning plays. 

“Give credit to NC State, they made the winning plays when they needed to make them,” Kerns said. “(I’m) disappointed in the result, but I’m not disappointed in our team. I thought we did some good things, but certainly not good enough. We came here expecting to win.”

Forrest, who was last week’s Sun Belt Player of the Week, finished with a game-high 25 points. He also added five rebounds, four steals and three assists. Sophomore guard Adrian Delph was the only other Mountaineer to reach double digit scoring with 10 points.

Lynette Files
Sophomore guard Adrian Delph finishes a dunk during App State’s loss at NC State on Dec. 29.

Senior forward Isaac Johnson led App State with eight rebounds and also scored seven points. Johnson was injured in the second half following a hard fall after going up for a dunk. 

“We’re going to have to get back and see the severity of it,” Kerns said about Johnson. 

The App State defense held NC State to it’s second fewest point total in a game this season. 

“That’s what we work on every day: defense, defense, defense,” junior guard O’Showen Williams said. “(We try) to let our defense translate into offense.”

The Mountaineers forced 15 turnovers while turning it over 10 times themselves. App State also outscored the Wolfpack 18-14 off turnovers and 10-4 on fastbreaks. 

Down the stretch, the Wolfpack’s ACC size and depth proved too much for the Mountaineers. NC State’s roster features three players that are at least 6’10”, while App State doesn’t have any. The Wolfpack out rebounded the Mountaineers 53-34 in the game. NC State also outscored App State 44-36 in the paint and had seven blocks to the Mountaineers’ one. 

“They don’t really normally play that way,” Kerns said. “They don’t normally play those two bigs together, (but) that was an adjustment they went to. They tried to really hurt us on the size, and it did hurt us on the glass. We’ve gotta have a team effort rebounding-wise.” 

With the loss, App State finishes it’s non-conference schedule at 6-5 and moves to 8-5 overall. Next up for the Mountaineers is a three-game homestand that starts on Jan. 2 against Sun Belt opponent Georgia State. Tipoff for that game is set for 7 p.m. in Boone.

“We’ve been on the road now for a while,” Kerns said. “(We) came out 3-1 during that stretch, (and) that’s a big confidence builder for our team. It’s going to be nice to see some familiar faces and be back at the Holmes Center. I’ve missed it.”