App State men’s basketball posted a thrilling 76-73 overtime victory over top seed Texas State in the Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinals on Saturday night.
The Mountaineers (15-11) advance to face Sun Belt East Division No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Tournament Semifinals on Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST in the Pensacola Bay Center.
The win marks the first tournament victory for the Black and Gold over a top seed since defeating No. 1 seed Georgia Southern in the 2006 Southern Conference Tournament. The victory also marks the first appearance for the Mountaineers in a conference tournament semifinal since the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament.
Texas State (18-7) opened up a 48-42 lead with 7:19 remaining. From there, the Mountaineers countered with a 7-0 run to jump in front 49-48. The Bobcats answered with a basket to retake the lead, but App State scored the next nine points to take a 58-50 advantage with 1:07 to play. Texas State responded with a basket, but Justin Forrest hit a pair of free throws on App State’s next possession to push the Mountaineers lead back to eight points.
Texas State hit a free throw and after Forrest split a pair of free throws, the Bobcats drained a three to pull within 61-56 with 26 seconds to go. Forrest made another free throw, only to see Texas State make another 3-pointer to pull within three points with 16 seconds left. Following two made free throws from Adrian Delph, the Bobcats pulled within 64-62 with six seconds left on a trey. Forrest was fouled again and hit the first freebie, but missed the second. Texas State grabbed the rebound and hit a 3-pointer as time expired to tie the score at 65-65 and send the game to overtime.
The Bobcats opened the scoring in the extra session with a 3-pointer. App State tied the game at 68-68, but Texas State retook the lead at 70-68 on a pair of free throws with 2:41 to play. Forrest answered for App State with a 3-pointer and following a defensive stop, was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to push the Mountaineers lead to 73-70 with 1:50 to go.
Texas State answered with a basket to pull within a point, but Michael Almonacy drained a huge 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining to give App State a 76-72 advantage. The Bobcats pulled within three on a free throw with 45 seconds left. App State came up empty on its next possession, but the Mountaineers forced a tough three from Caleb Asberry in the final seconds that was no good. Forrest grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock to give the Mountaineers the thrilling win.
Forrest opened the scoring in the contest with a 3-pointer, but Texas State came right back with a trey of its own to tie the score at 3-3. App State jumped in front on a basket by Donovan Gregory, only to see the Bobcats answer with six straight points to take a 9-5 lead. Trailing 15-10, the Mountaineers used a 3-pointer from Almonacy to cut the Bobcat lead to 15-13. Texas State answered with a 9-2 spurt to build a 24-15 edge and took a 26-20 lead into the intermission.
Forrest poured in a season best 28 points, going 14-of-17 (82.4 percent) from the free throw line. He added six rebounds and a pair of assists. Almonacy finished with 23 points, which was just one shy of tying his App State career high, to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Delph tallied 16 points and eight rebounds and Gregory finished with five points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Mountaineers drained 12 3-pointers for the second consecutive game and went 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) from deep in the second half.
Mason Harrell led Texas State with 20 points, while Asberry recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.