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Mountaineers stay atop Sun Belt with win over Louisiana

Junior+guard+Xavion+Brown+shoots+a+runner+in+the+lane+against+Louisiana+Feb.+17.+Brown+finished+with+eight+points+and+four+rebounds.
Taneille Jordan
Junior guard Xavion Brown shoots a runner in the lane against Louisiana Feb. 17. Brown finished with eight points and four rebounds.

The Mountaineers stayed atop the Sun Belt Conference with an 85-73 victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. This is the Black and Gold’s 11th win in their past 12 games, as they stay undefeated at the Holmes Convocation Center this season. 

Before the game started, sophomore forward Justin Abson was honored for breaking the App State single-season block record with 76 on the year. He added two more to his total during the contest.

In the first half, two of the Sun Belt’s best showed their firepower with entertaining back-and-forth basketball. Louisiana’s forward Hosana Kitenge was the offense’s focal point, as he scored both of the Ragin’ Cajuns opening baskets. App State kept pace with Louisiana’s offense throughout the first half. 

Tied at 18 with 9:40 on the clock, freshman guard Jordan Marsh showed his aggressiveness by driving hard to the left side of the basket. His initial shot came up short, but Abson tipped the ball out for an offensive rebound straight back to Marsh. He took his second chance, where he made the layup while getting fouled and made the free throw, giving App State a 21-18 lead.

The Mountaineers walk back onto the court against Ragin’ Cajuns Feb. 17. The Black and Gold have won 11 of their last 12 games. (Taneille Jordan)

Momentum seemed to be swinging in favor of Louisiana heading into halftime, but junior guard Terence Harcum had other plans. Down 39-34, with 10 seconds left in the half and three seconds on the shot clock, he drained a three-pointer from the halfcourt logo over two defenders. The first half ended 39-37 in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Louisiana came out with something to prove in the second half. After back-and-forth baskets to start the half, they went on a 13-4 run to put them ahead 56-47. 

Junior guard Myles Tate interrupted the run with a mid-range jumper. After a missed three by Louisiana on the next possession, Marsh ran the length of the court to hit another and-one layup. He hit the free throw and put the Mountaineers within four with 11:54 remaining. 

App State’s offense never looked back, going on to dominate, giving up 17 points for the rest of the game to secure the win. 

Marsh scored a career-high and team-high 23 points, along with four rebounds and two assists. Behind him in scoring was graduate student forward Donovan Gregory with 15 points. 

“He’s not afraid of the moment,” said head coach Dustin Kerns on Marsh.

The Black and Gold defense had an uncharacteristic start to the night as they allowed Louisiana to shoot over 50% from the field in the first half, compared to their normal 39% average. That changed in the second half, leading to the 12-point victory. 

The depth of App State also led to the win as almost every player saw success shooting in the second half. While Louisiana leaned on Kitenge to run their offense, App State rode the hot hand in Marsh and spread the scoring around with eight different players with six or more points.

The Mountaineers next game will be Thursday in Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion at 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.

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About the Contributor
Adam Persico, Reporter
Adam Persico is a junior electronic media/broadcasting major, English minor from Waxhaw, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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