The Mountaineers (9-20, 5-11 SoCon) trailed the Mocs (18-13, 12-4) by just five points (35-30) at the end of the first half, but managed to score just five points over the first 10 minutes of the second half as Chattanooga held the Apps to just 14 second-half points en route to clinching the No. 2 seed in next weeks SoCon Tournament.
After Tab Hamilton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Fishburne Military) pulled the Mountaineers to within four points (38-34) with 18:06 to play, Appalachian would go completely cold as it score just one more point over the next eight-plus minutes as UTC reeled off a 12-1 run to push its lead to 50-35 before Tommy Spagnolo (West Jefferson, N.C./Ashe County) finally broke the field-goal drought with a layup at the 9:59 mark.
It would be all Mocs from there as the Mountaineers were held to just 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from the floor over the games final 20 minutes as Chattanooga finished off the season sweep of the Apps and won their seventh-straight home game over the Mountaineers in the final league meeting between the teams.
Appalachian looked as if it may make a game of things in the first half as it led by four points (12-8) with 14:09 to go, but the lead was short-lived as UTC scored the next 10 points to take a 20-12 lead and never trailed again. The Mountaineers were able to cut the deficit to two points on four occasions over the final nine-plus minutes of the first half, but could never regain the lead.
Michael Obacha (Edo State, Nigeria/High Point Christian) paced Appalachian with 11 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Spagnolo scored nine points while Ty Toney (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta) scored eight and pulled down a career-high seven boards.
The story of the night was Chattanoogas Z. Mason, who scored 24 points, ripped down three rebounds and tallied six blocks in his final game for the Mocs. Gee McGhee added 11 points while Ronrico White poured in 10 and Casey Jones hauled in 10 rebounds.
On the night, Appalachian shot just 30.6 percent (15-of-49) and was a paltry 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) from the charity stripe while connecting on just 1-of-5 three-point attempts. Chattanooga did not fare much better as it connected at a clip of just 37.7 percent (20-of-53) but hit six three pointers and outrebounded the Apps 50-32.
Appalachian State will enter next weeks league tournament as the No. 9 seed, where it will face No. 8 Samford (12-19, 6-10) at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 7 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville. The winner will take on regular-season champion and No. 1 seeded Davidson (19-11, 15-1) in the quarterfinals at noon on Saturday, March 8.
NOTES: Appalachian State dropped to 31-45 all-time against the Mocs... the Mountaineers will end their 41-year run in the SoCon with an overall record of 330-320 in league play... Appalachians 44 points were the least it had scored in a game since a 78-43 loss at Texas on Jan. 2, 2009... it was the third-lowest scoring total in a SoCon game in school history - the fewest since suffering a 76-43 setback at Chattanooga on Jan. 11, 1988... App States 20 losses are the most since finishing 9-21 in 2003-04... it is just the 11th 20-loss season in school history (89 seasons)... Appalachians 14 second-half points are the fewest in a single half since the Mountaineers scored nine in the first half of a 69-37 loss at Virginia Tech on Dec. 10, 2006.
CHATTANOOGA 63, APPALACHIAN STATE 44
SCORE BY PERIODS 1ST 2ND TOTAL
APPALACHIAN STATE 30 14 - 44
TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA 35 28 - 63
ASU: OBACHA 11 (7 REBOUNDS), SPAGNOLO 9 HAMILTON 7, BURGESS 2, TONEY 8 (7 REBOUNDS, 3 ASSISTS), KOBANI 2, EAVES 5. FG: 15-49, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 13-29. 32 REBOUNDS, 7 ASSISTS, 7 TURNOVERS.
UTC: STOKES 6, MASON 24 (13 REBOUNDS), McGHEE 11, JONES 6 (10 REBOUNDS), BAREIKA 8, WHITE 10, HOUTS 2. FG: 20-53, 3FG: 6-15, FT: 17-27. 50 REBOUNDS, 12 ASSISTS, 13 TURNOVERS.
Photo Courtesy: Jason Capel, ASU Athletics