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Mountaineers win double-overtime thriller against Toledo

Junior+forward+TreVon+Spillers+slams+it+against+Toledo+Feb.+10.+Spillers+scored+eight+points+against+the+Rockets.
Sam Fleming
Junior forward Tre’Von Spillers slams it against Toledo Feb. 10. Spillers scored eight points against the Rockets.

App State men’s basketball grinded out a back and forth double-overtime home 109-104 win against the Toledo Rockets Saturday afternoon. The victory landed the Mountaineers at 11-0 at home and served as their ninth win in the last 10 games.

This was the Black and Gold’s first time facing off with Toledo in the 21st century as they previously matched up  Dec. 3, 1999. Saturday’s win moved App State to 3-0 in the overall series.

The expectations for this MAC-SBC challenge matchup were high. The Rockets came in ranked second in the MAC, while the Mountaineers remained at the top of the Sun Belt. 

“They’re a program that we try to model ourselves after, in what they’ve done in the MAC,” said head coach Dustin Kerns. “The consistency they have, we’ve got a lot of respect for them.” 

The Rockets have won the MAC three consecutive years. 

From the opening tip, it was evident this was going to be a high-scoring affair. 

“It was a face-paced game,” said graduate student forward Donovan Gregory. “Lot of points, lot of back and forth, but it’s fun to be in games like that, that’s what you put all the work in for.” 

The Black and Gold could not miss in the first half, shooting 76% from the field and 71% from the three-point line. Toledo responded by creating extra scoring opportunities through forced turnovers and offensive rebounding to go into the half ahead 47-46.

App State grabbed the lead back with a thunderous alley-oop connection between junior guard Myles Tate and senior forward CJ Huntley at the 16:15 mark in the second half. The Rockets responded with a 12-5 run, taking a 67-61 lead with 12:31 remaining in regulation. 

In a game that saw 17 lead changes and 16 ties, Toledo maintained a lead between four and 11 points from this point until crunchtime. 

 Trailing 90-81 with just over two minutes remaining in regulation, things looked bleak for the Mountaineers. A Gregory layup on the ensuing possession initiated the comeback and instilled life back into Holmes Convocation Center. 

App State’s defense down the stretch was rock solid, not allowing a point for the remainder of regulation. The lead shrunk to 90-87 after Tate converted two free throws with one minute remaining. 

Tate took the reins on the next offensive possession, getting in the paint and converting an and-one opportunity to knot things up at 90 with 22 seconds left. A Mountaineer defensive stand then sent the contest into its first overtime period.

The game stayed within one possession for the entirety of the overtime period. A breakaway layup by freshman guard Jordan Marsh gave App State a 99-97 lead. Toledo immediately tied things up at 99 with a transition floater at the 1:16 mark in the frame. Neither team scored for the rest of the period, requiring a second overtime. 

A Gregory layup with 1:23 remaining gave the Mountaineers a 107-104 advantage. Sophomore forward Justin Abson stepped up and sank two clutch free throws to put the Black and Gold up by five with 16 seconds to play, effectively sealing the win. 

“We found a way,” Kerns said. “I think that’s what really good teams do, they find a way to win.” 

The win improves App State to 20-5 overall, the first 20-win season since 2009-10. Additionally, it marks the first time the program has reached 20 wins by Feb. 10 at the Division I level.

Gregory led in scoring with 24 points on 10-11 shooting. Marsh posted a career-high 17 points, along with two blocks and three steals.

“Tonight Jordan stepped up, gave us big minutes and we rock with him,” Gregory said. 

The Mountaineers will continue their three-game homestand Thursday against Marshall at 6:30 p.m. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.

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About the Contributors
Fran Murphy, Reporter
Fran Murphy (he/him) is a junior digital journalism major, english minor, from Asheville, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
Sam Fleming, Photographer
Sam Fleming (he/him) is a freshman Environmental Science Major, Computer Information Systems minor, from Greensboro, NC. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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