CULLOWHEE, N.C. -- Appalachian State men's basketball overcame a eight-point deficit in the final four minutes, but fell in the closing seconds 72-71 at Western Carolina on Monday evening.
Trailing 70-62 with 4:00 to play, the Mountaineers (5-5) reeled off nine straight points, capped off on a tip in by senior Craig Hinton(Winston-Salem, N.C./East Forsyth), to take a 71-70 lead with 1:33 to play.
On the Catamounts (3-6) next possession, it was Hinton making a key block on a layup attempt to keep App State in front. The Mountaineers would grab the rebound, but came up empty on their next possession.
Appalachian would get another stop thanks to great defense from sophomore Isaac Johnson (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day). The Mountaineers were able to grab the rebound and junior Ronshad Shabazz (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep) was fouled with 23 seconds remaining.
Shabazz stepped up the free throw line and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Western Carolina pulled down the rebound and called timeout with 16 seconds to play.
Following the timeout, the Catamounts' Mike Amius made a move in the post and put WCU in front 72-71 on a dunk with seven seconds to go.
Shabazz took the ensuing inbound the length of the court, but his shot attempt as the buzzer sounded was no good, giving Western Carolina the win.
After falling behind early 8-6 in the first four minutes of the contest, the Apps scored seven straight points to open up a 13-8 lead with 13:29 left in the first half.
The Black and Gold would expand its lead to 19-11, before the Catamounts answered with a 12-4 run to tie score at 23-23. Western Carolina took a 31-30 lead into the break.
WCU would come out of the intermission and open a 42-38 lead, but the Mountaineers were able to tie the score at 46-46 on a three-pointer from Tyrell Johnson (Atlanta, Ga./Stephenson).
The Catamounts had an answer and would open a 62-53 lead, before a trey from Forrest pulled the Mountaineers within six points at 62-56 with just under eight minutes to play.
From there, the Apps were able to rally and take the lead, but came up just short in the final moments.
Freshman Justin Forrest (Decatur, Ga./Greenforest McCalep Christian Academy) led the Mountaineers with 18 points, including a 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) mark from deep.
Shabazz added 16 points and three assists, while Tyrell Johnson tallied 13 points, five rebounds and a season-high tying three blocks. Isaac Johnson chipped in with six points and 11 rebounds, marking the second straight game he has recorded double digit rebounds.
Hinton provided a nice spark off the bench, finishing with seven points on 3-of-4 (75.0 percent) shooting, two rebounds, a season-high two assists and a season-best two blocks.
Overall, Appalachian shot 28-of-58 (48.3 percent) from the field, while Western Carolina was 26-of-56 (46.4 percent).
The Apps won the rebounding battle 36-31 and also blocked a total of seven shots, which was one off of their season-high.
Deriece Parks scored a game-high 20 points for Western Carolina, while Amius added 19 points and seven rebounds.
The Mountaineers will be back at it on Saturday as they continue their four game road swing by taking on Akron at 2 p.m. The contest will be aired on the ESPN3.
Appalachian State Strategic Communications
6048 Appalachian Athletics Center
425 Jack Branch Drive