Appalachian State 93, College of Charleston 81
ASHEVILLE, N.C. --- Mike Neal's 21 points led five Mountaineers in double digits as Appalachian State (13-17) topped College of Charleston (19-12) 93-81 in Game One of the 2012 Southern Conference Basketball Championship. The event returns to the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville where it was held from 1984-95.
Neal was joined in double figures by Omar Carter (19), Tab Hamilton (17), Isaac Butts (11) and Andre Williamson (10). Williamson and Butts combined for 29 rebounds with 15 and 14, respectively. That led a dominant effort on the boards with a 50-31 advantage for the Mountaineers.
Charleston was led by Trent Wiedeman with 19 points and seven rebounds. Antwaine Wiggins and Andrew Lawrence had 16 points apiece, while Anthony Stitt came off the bench to add 14.
It was a tie game, 42-42, on a Stitt layup with 14:27 to go in the game as the Cougars erased a slim three-point halftime deficit. App State responded scoring on four straight possessions to lead by six, 50-44, on two Mitch Woods free throws at 12:21.
Charleston would get no closer than four the rest of the way. With the score 50-46, ASU went on a 26-12 run to grab its largest lead of 18, 76-58, on a Neal dunk at 3:51. During the run, the Mountaineers were in top form offensively scoring on 13 of 15 possessions, four times using their control on the glass to keep play in their own end.
Two Lawrence free throws with 1:43 remaining got the Cougars within eight, 84-76, but that's as close as it would get. App State made five of six free throws and had breakaway dunks by Hamilton and Neal to seal the deal.
The Mountaineers scored 24 second chance points nearly going 50-50 on the boards on their own end with 17 offensive boards to CofC's 18 defensive. App State shot 53.1 percent, 62.5 percent (20-32) in the second half, from the floor. ASU rebounded eight of its 12 misses.
The Cougars forced 17 ASU turnovers, while only coughing it up six times. They tallied 24 points off the 17 Mountaineer miscues to offset early shooting woes. Charleston shot just 32,5 percent (13-40) in the opening frame.
App State led by as many as nine, 26-17, in the first half on a three-pointer by Tab Hamilton at 5:13. Charleston scored the next seven points to get within two, 26-24, on two Adjehi Baru free throws at 4:21. The half ended with a Wiedeman dunk just before the final horn to give ASU a 33-30 lead at intermission. Five of ASU's 17 turnovers came in the final five minutes of the first half to open the door for the Cougars.
App State advances to the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Championship to face North Division No. 1 UNCG at Noon Saturday. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.com and live stats can be found on the SoConSports.com men's basketball page.
Western Carolina 68, The Citadel 56
ASHEVILLE, N.C. --- North Division No. 3 Western Carolina (15-17) captured game two of the Southern Conference Men's Basketball Championship 68-56 over South No. 6 The Citadel Friday afternoon in the U.S. Cellular Center. Western took the lead at 18:49 of the first half and never looked back.
Harouna Mutombo tied for game-high honors with 21 points for Western Carolina. Trey Sumler added 18 points and six assists, while Keaton Cole chipped in 14 points and six assists of his own.
Mike Groselle matched Mutumbo's 21-point effort for the Bulldogs. He scored 16 of his 21 in the second half leading his squad to 65.2 percent shooting (15-23) from the field after intermission, 52.4 percent (22-42) for the game.
Trailing by seven at the break, The Citadel got within five twice in the second half. The first came on a Groselle layup at 15:28, 31-26, and then again at 13:20, 37-32, on Groselle's old-fashioned three-point play.
WCU nailed three-pointers on three consecutive possessions to extend the lead to 12, 46-34. Brandon Boggs hit the first followed by Cole and Sumler. Groselle got the Bulldogs within seven, 52-45, on another and-one at 6:34.
Cole and Sumler combined again from beyond the arc to stretch the lead quickly back to 12, 58-46, at 5:15. The Catamounts lead swelled to 14, 66-52, with 1:29 to go on a Sumler free throw. The Bulldogs tried to make it interesting.
Lawrence Miller nailed a jumper at 1:18 to get it back to 12, 66-54. That was followed immediately by a Cosmo Morabbi steal and layup in the full court press to make it 66-56, but that was as close as it would get.
The Citadel's hot second half was matched by WCU. The Catamounts hit 65.2 percent (15-23) as well including five of 11 (45.5%) from three-point range. They made 12 of 27 (44.4%) for the game compared to four of 11 (36.4%) for the Bulldogs.
Groselle scored the first basket of the game for The Citadel before a 9-0 run for the Catamounts, all on three-pointers. Mutumbo, Cole and Sumler each drained deep shots in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the game.
Ashton Moore hit the Bulldogs' lone three of the first half at 10:48, to make it a two-point game, 12-10. Mutumbo's trey at 3:13 capped a 7-2 run where WCU held The Citadel to just one field goal over nearly a nine-minute stretch.
Western Carolina advances to the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Championship to face South Division No. 2 Wofford Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.com and live stats are on the SoConSports.com men's basketball page.