A strong start was not enough for the Mountaineers, who lost to Charlotte 77-59 at the Holmes Convocation Center on Sunday.
App State struck first when junior guard Mike Neal drove the lane and finished with a layup.
After senior forward Tevin Baskin capped off a 3-point play, the Mountaineers led 5-0, which was their largest of the night.
The Mountaineers controlled play for the first 10 minutes and did not trail until junior guard Terrence Williams snagged a defensive rebound and made a layup on the other end to put Charlotte in the lead 12-11.
App State freshman guard Ty Toney tied the game at 14 by sinking a free throw to complete a 3-point play, but an 11-0 Charlotte run gave the 49ers the lead again, 25-14.
In the last minute of the first half, junior guard Tab Hamilton stole the ball near half court and missed a layup on the fast break.
Neal picked up the offensive rebound and also missed the shot. That sequence summed up the first half for the Mountaineers, who showed a lot of effort, but were ultimately unable to cut into the lead.
The Mountaineers went into halftime trailing 37-22.
“We started getting out of control and taking bad shots in the first half and they were able to get out and run,” Neal said. “When teams take bad shots other teams are able to run in transition and get points really easily.”
The second half was all about keeping App State behind for the 49ers, who improved to 5-1 in games where they lead after one half.
After shooting 25 percent from the field, the Mountaineers were able to get some better looks in the second half, improving their final shooting percentage to 32.8 percent.
App State attempted 24 3-pointers and made only four.
One of the biggest factors for the 49ers was outscoring App State in the paint 54-28. Charlotte’s final shooting percentage was 50.8 percent, helped by high percentage looks in the paint.
Freshman forward Mike Kobani played for 10 minutes in the second half, and pulled down six of his team-leading eight rebounds during that time.
“We fought hard in the paint, but just came out with a loss,” Kobani said. “Their big guys were effective. They played really well.”
Neal led the Mountaineers with 17 points. The 49ers were led by sophomore center Mike Thorne Jr., who scored 26 points.
Sophomore forward Willie Clayton pulled down 10 rebounds while also adding 11 points.
The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 23 and never seemed to be comfortable in the second half, as they couldn’t find a way to get back into the game.
“I thought we did some good things, but when you’re not making shots, your confidence drops,” head coach Jason Capel said. “I thought we got good looks and at some point we have to make them. Charlotte is a good team and they killed us inside.”
The next game for the Mountaineers is Sunday at Winthrop. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
Story: CORY SPIERS, Opinion Editor