Three Mountaineers reach double-digits as App State beats Troy 68-59 behind strong second half

After+struggling+in+the+loss+to+South+Alabama+on+Thursday%2C+Justin+Forrest+helped+lead+App+State+past+Troy+on+Saturday+with+a+game-high+24+points.

Courtesy App State Athletics/Jay Crain

After struggling in the loss to South Alabama on Thursday, Justin Forrest helped lead App State past Troy on Saturday with a game-high 24 points.

Silas Albright, Sports Editor

In a late-season Sun Belt matchup, App State came from behind, outscoring Troy 41-27 in the second half en route to a 68-59 win and season sweep of Troy on Saturday evening.

“As a program we try to take some stairs, I felt like today we took some,” head coach Dustin Kerns said. “I think this is the most Sun Belt wins ever, first time (sweeping) three teams. Certainly felt like we took some stairs today in a hard fought game.” 

Junior guard Justin Forrest led the way for the Mountaineers with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals off the bench. 

“I felt like after Justin has had four games where he hasn’t played his best, and so I said, ‘Let’s get you going by bringing you off the bench,’” Kerns said. “Certainly he responded. He was in the gym a lot yesterday. Sometimes guys need that just to kinda help get them going.” 

Senior guard O’Showen Williams followed up his career-high 32 point performance in Thursday’s loss to South Alabama with 15 points and three steals. Senior forward Isaac Johnson recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Adrian Delph also added nine points.

The first half went back and forth and ended with Troy holding on to a 32-27 advantage. The Mountaineers struggled to knock down shots in the first half, shooting just 2-of-13 from three-point range and 26.9% from the floor.

“I felt like early on, we were settling for threes too much,” Kerns said. “I didn’t tell our guys not to shoot threes, but it was emphasized that basically the ball’s gotta touch the paint first. It made us more aggressive and it certainly helped.” 

In the second half, the Mountaineers outscored the Trojans 41-27.

“We just needed to play with more energy,” Forrest said. “Coach got on us at halftime and said ‘That’s not us’ and we just got back to our identity in that second half.”

Forrest scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. 

“(In the) second half, our defense turned up a little bit, we got stops and we were able to get into transition and  play how we want to play,” Forrest said. 

App State improves to 16-13 on the season and 10-8 in the Sun Belt. Troy falls to 9-20 and 5-13 in the Sun Belt. The Mountaineers are currently sixth in the conference standings but are just a game out of third place with two regular season games left on the schedule. 

Over 50 App State basketball alumni were in attendance in celebration of the 100th year of the team. 

The Mountaineers have a week until their next game when they take on Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 4 p.m in the last home game of the season. 

“They’re a great team, so we just gotta play like we did when we played them at Coastal,” Johnson said. “We just gotta keep our heads straight.”

The Mountaineers beat the Chanticleers 78-58 on Jan. 25 and will look for another important late-season win on Saturday.