Despite shooting 52.9 percent from the field and owning a 39-30 advantage on the glass, Appalachian State University men’s basketball was unable to hold onto an early lead in an 83-75 setback at Western Carolina’s Ramsey Center on Saturday’s regular season finale. The Mountaineers finish the season
as the Southern Conference North Division’s fifth seed and square off with College of Charleston on Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the league tournament’s opening round.
Andre Williamson (Dayton, Ohio/Prince George) led Appalachian (12-17, 7-11 SoCon) with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five free throws. The senior forward added three rebounds and a block in 25 minutes off the bench. ASU converted 27-of-51 attempts on the afternoon with six players shooting 50 percent or better individually.
The Mountaineers turned the ball over a fatal 20 times, including 13 Catamount (14-17, 8-10 SoCon) steals, and the miscues accounted for 24 Western Carolina points. Eight of ASU’s 39 rebounds came on the offensive glass for seven second-chance points.
Three other ASU players scored in double figures, led by 11 each from Nathan Healy (New Bern, N.C./Blair Academy) and Mike Neal (Greensboro, N.C./Oak Ridge Military). Healy added six rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks, while Neal added six rebounds of his own and dished out six of ASU’s 11 assists. The freshman was plagued by the WCU defense throughout the afternoon and committed a season-worst nine turnovers.
G.J. Vilarino (McKinney, Texas/Gonzaga) added 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting with a three-pointer and three free throws. The sophomore guard added five rebounds. Isaac Butts (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College Prep) scored nine points and hauled in a team-high seven rebounds. The boards gave the senior center sole possession of ninth place on ASU’s career rebounds list at 781. He passed former teammate Jeremy Clayton (774) and is just two shy of Dave Abertnathy’s eighth-place mark.
ASU raced out to a 14-4 lead and extended it to as many as 12 points in the first half before Trey Sumler rallied the home team back for a 34-34 tie at the intermission. In the second half, ASU took three different leads before the Catamounts took control and climbed out to a 15-point advantage with under four minutes to play.
Down the stretch, The Apps pulled back within five points in the final minute but a pair of WCU free throws and a fast break layup sealed Appalachian’s fate. After drawing a technical foul for attempting to engage Butts in an altercation early in the first half, WCU’s Sumler regained his composure to lead all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He added eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to lead the home team. Harouna Mutombo added 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting on Senior Day.
WCU shot 48.4 percent in the game after an 18-of-31 mark in the second half. The Cats sank 6-of-15 three-pointers and just 15-of-29 free throws.
The Mountaineers turn their attention to next weekend’s Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville, N.C. The winner of Friday’s contest will face North champion UNCG in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.
WCU 83, ASU 75
Score by periods 1st 2nd Total
Appalachian State........ 34 41 75
Western Carolina......... 34 49 83
ASU: HEALY 11 (6 REBOUNDS), BUTTS 9 (7 REBOUNDS), HAMILTON 7, NEAL 11 (6 REBOUNDS, 6 ASSISTS), WOODS 3, VILARINO 10, TRICE 4, CARTER 5, WILLIAMSON 15. FG: 27-51, 3FG: 4-10, FT: 17-28. 39 REBOUNDS, 20 TURNOVERS, 11 ASSISTS.
WCU: MUTOMBO 16, KING 5, COLE 9, SUMLER 27 (8 REBOUNDS, 6 ASSISTS), BOGGS 8, HALL 5, SINCLAIR 6, ROSS 5, SMITHSON 2. FG: 31-64, 3FG: 6-15, FT: 15-29. 30 REBOUNDS, 10 TURNOVERS, 10 ASSISTS.
Photo Courtesy: Andre Williamson, ASU Athletics