Mountaineers men’s basketball clinches No. 2 seed in Sun Belt Tournament with split on the road

Senior+guard+Adrian+Delph+fades+away+as+he+releases+a+midrange+jumper+over+a+South+Alabama+defender+Feb.+19%2C+2022.+

Travis Holshouser

Senior guard Adrian Delph fades away as he releases a midrange jumper over a South Alabama defender Feb. 19, 2022.

Ethan Smith, Reporter

The Mountaineers traveled to Arkansas for contests against Little Rock and Arkansas State. They finished 1-1 to close out the 2021-22 regular season before postseason play begins. 

In the first game against Little Rock Wednesday, App State controlled much of the game. Senior guard Michael Almonacy erupted for 17 points in the first 10 minutes of game action, finishing the first half with 21 points on 5-11 shooting from the field and 7-11 from three-point range. As a team, the Black and Gold shot 50% from the field and 53% from three. The Mountaineer defense held the Trojans to 40.6% shooting while forcing eight turnovers. App State led 40-32 going into halftime. 

In the second half, the Mountaineers kept their foot on the gas, leading by as many as 16. Senior guard Adrian Delph scored 13 of his 18 total points in the half, finishing along with eight rebounds and four assists. As a team, they shot 54.8% from the field soaring to a 78-66 victory. Junior forward Donovan Gregory finished with 10 points, four rebounds and seven assists. Almonacy scored a season-high 26 points in addition to four rebounds and four assists.

The second leg of the trip featured a Friday night matchup against Arkansas State.

In the regular season finale, the Mountaineers played a back and forth game. It featured nine lead changes and four ties. App State shot 36% from the field and 33% from three-point range, while the Red Wolves shot 47% from the field.

The Mountaineers led at halftime before a 9-0 run at the beginning of the second half gave Arkansas State a 39-34 lead. At the 6:36 mark, the Black and Gold regained the lead 56-53 after eight-straight points. Arkansas State went on a run and left App State down four with 1:34 left in the contest. After a free throw battle between both sides and a missed three-point attempt from Delph, Arkansas State squeezed out a 62-60 victory.

Super senior guard Justin Forrest finished with 15 points, five rebounds and an assist, while Delph scored 19 points and hauled in seven rebounds.

The Mountaineers finish the regular season 18-13 and 12-6 in Sun Belt play, marking the first 12-win season since joining the Sun Belt in 2014. With the win over Little Rock, the Mountaineers hold the No. 2 seed and a bye in the Sun Belt Tournament. They will match up with the winner of Coastal Carolina and Georgia Southern March 5.