Jan. 19, 2015. Appalachian State University men’s basketball overcame an 11-point second-half deficit and pulled out one of its biggest wins in recent memory, a 74-69 triumph over Sun Belt Conference favorite Georgia State on Saturday afternoon at the Holmes Center.
Appalachian State (5-10, 2-4 Sun Belt) trailed 56-45 with 10:55 to go in the ballgame but capped a 20-8 run with a three-pointer by Frank Eaves (Greensboro, N.C./Page) that gave the Mountaineers a 65-64 lead with 5:39 to go.
Georgia State (11-7, 4-3 Sun Belt) took the lead twice following Eaves’ eighth three-pointer of the game but both times, Tommy Spagnolo (West Jefferson, N.C./Ashe County [Radford])answered with thunderous slam dunks to give the advantage back to App State.
On his first dunk, Spagnolo was fouled by GSU’s Kevin Ware and made the ensuing free throw to give the Mountaineers a 68-66 lead with 1:38 to go.
Georgia State made three free throws over their next two possessions to retake a 69-68 advantage but Spagnolo’s second slam on a beautiful pass from Eaves gave App State the lead for good with 21 seconds to go.
From there, Appalachian made two big defensive stops and Spagnolo made 4-of-4 foul shots down the stretch to seal the victory.
The comeback came after a first half in which Georgia State knocked down 78.3 percent (18-of-23) of their shots to stake itself to a 40-30 halftime lead. However, the Mountaineers were able to clamp down defensively over the final 20 minutes, allowing GSU to shoot just 36.4 percent (8-of-22) in the second half.
Georgia State outshot the Mountaineers 57.8 (26-of-45) to 36.7 percent (22-of-60). However, App State made up deficit by sinking a season-high 12 three-pointers, including a career-high eight by Eaves. Eaves’ eight treys highlighted a career-best 27 points for the junior.
Spagnolo added 22 points, thanks in large part to making 12-of-13 free throws. Chris Burgess (Lakeland, Fla/George Jenkins) rounded out three Mountaineers in double-figures with 14 points.
Ryan Harrow led Georgia State with 21 points. NBA prospect R.J. Hunter scored 16 but did not make a field goal in the second half.
On the day the Mountaineers finished a 36-30 edge in rebounds, including 17 on the offensive glass, and dished out a season-best 16 assists while tying a season-low with just seven turnovers.
Appalachian hits the road on Monday as it square off with Troy at 8:30 p.m. (ET) before returning home on Thursday for a rematch against South Alabama.
NOTES: Appalachian State improved to 3-0 all-time against Georgia State … Eaves’ eight three-pointers tied for the fourth most in a single game in school history … Eaves and Burgess combined for 41 points, 36 of which came from behind the arc … in fact, neither player made a two-point basket and the duo went a combined 13-of-23 from beyond the arc … Spagnolo’s free throw attempts and makes (12-of-13) eclipsed his previous career high (5-of-10).
Photos by Sarah Weiffenbach