Mountaineers stay in contention for first-round bye, beat Samford 70-67

Chelsey Fisher

The Mountaineers forced a tie-breaking situation with Samford on Thursday at the Homes Center after beating them 70-67 in double overtime.

The Appalachian State men’s basketball team (13-15, 9-8 SoCon) moved into second place in the North Division with the win. Samford (11-19, 9-8 SoCon) slid down into third because the Mountaineers hold the tie-breaking situation since they beat conference-leading Elon University once this season.

The double overtime game against the Mountaineers would fare well for two teams fighting for a first-round bye.

“Our goal all year was to get a first-round bye to hopefully help us win a conference tournament,” head coach Jason Capel said. “We’re in that position now because we took care of business.”

Back-to-back Jamaal Trice’s three pointers with four minutes left on the clock pushed the lead to 12 (32-20). The Bulldogs would go on a 9-1 run to end the half and pulled back within four (33-29).

At the half, Samford’s point guard Russell Wilson led all scorers with eight points. Tevin Baskin led the Mountaineers with seven points. Both teams shot well the first half. The Mountaineers shot 48.1 percent while Samford shot 44.8 percent.

Both teams traded baskets the first four minutes of the second half until Samford took the lead at 15:25 (40-37). Mike Neal hit a three-pointer on the next possession to tie the game at 40.

Samford would force a timeout with under five minutes remaining after they took a six-point lead (57-51). After the timeout Samford would score on a layup but Jamaal Trice would hit another three pointer to make the score 59-54.

A five point run by the Mountaineers had them within one point (59-58) with under a minute remaining. Mike Obacha would steal the ball and Jay Canty went down for a fast break layup but was fouled. He went 1-2 at the line to tie the game up at 59.

Samford had the last shot with 17 seconds left on the clock. Tab Hamilton blocked Samford trying three pointers. Healy caught the block out of bounds and Samford would have got another chance with 1.6 seconds left on the clock.

Samford’s Clide Geffrard traveled on the inbounds play and the game would go into overtime.

“It was a little frustrating knowing that we didn’t pull the game out right away,” Canty said. “We missed some big shots, but we were able to stretch the game out to get the win.”

Samford would score first in overtime but Neal hit two free throws to tie the game (61-61). Appalachian had the ball with the shot clock off and just 21.1 remaining but Jay Canty missed the shot and the game went into double overtime.

Trice capitalized first on a three pointer in second overtime to take the three-point advantage (64-61). Samford responded with an offensive rebound and a layup. Obacha was fouled on the next possession and made both free throws to push the lead back up to three (66-63).

Nate Healy forced a bad shot that landed in Canty hands. Canty went coast-to-coast to take a five-point lead (68-65). Both teams scored again to make the game 70-67 with an Appalachian lead.

Samford had the ball last but missed a three-pointer that would give Appalachian the win.

Trice finished with 18 points, shooting 5-for-7 from behind the arc.

“I just come out and play the game of basketball like I know,” Trice said. “I have one more game in this building and it goes by fast.”

Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Sports Reporter