By Tim Gardner
Feb. 26, 2012. CULLOWHEE, NC — 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 in last 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 this 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.
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.