BOONE — Appalachian State chalked up an early season win against an in-state opponent on Thursday night.
The Mountaineers (4-3) handled Charlotte 64-55 in front of 2,203 at the Holmes Center.
The 49ers (2-2) were coming off wins against Davidson (71-58) and Wake Forest (67-65), but couldn’t handle the Mountaineers’ stingy defense.
“I told one of the officials during the game, I said ‘This is an old-school fist fight,” said Coach Dustin Kerns of App State. “But I thought we were able to score off our defense early, which really allowed us to get the lead.”
O’Showen Williams led the Mountaineers with 18 points, and Adrian Delph added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Here are three thoughts from the game:
O’Showen Williams stealing the show
First, Williams disrupted on the defensive end.
He then provided much-needed production to keep the 49ers at arm’s length.
Williams had three steals in a 7-minute span. The last evolved into a coast-to-coast layup that put the Mountaineers ahead 24-9.
“Yeah, I think he’s a big part of what we do defensively,” Kerns said. “He brings a lot of energy.”
Williams was part of the second-half surge thanks to his point production, scoring 11 of his game-high 18 there. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers after Charlotte cut App State’s lead to single digits.
Williams, a senior guard who joined the program as junior college transfer before the 2017-18 season, said Kerns urged him after the last game to shoot more and be aggressive.
“That’s what I did tonight, and that’s what I’m going to do the rest of the season,” Williams said.
A cold open
Both teams started cold. When the first timeout came with 13:12 in the first half, App State held a 6-5 lead.
At that point, the teams were a combined 4-of-19. App State missed its share, making only two of its first 10 shots. But it found life on the other side of the stoppage, with Delph using a Euro-step to score inside.
That was the first basket of a 22-4 App State run. Charlotte put together a late rally before halftime to pull back within 13.
“I just thought from start to finish, we were incredible defensively,” Kerns said.
App State’s held six straight opponents at 62 points or fewer. On Thursday, they were able to pull out the win with Justin Forrest struggling offensively. Forrest went 1-of-13 from the field, his only score a 3-pointer.
“We didn’t really do anything special,” Delph said. “We played the same defense we learned since the beginning. We’ve just been getting better and better at it during practice so that really helped us out these last couple games.”
App State shot 64 percent from the free-throw line against Charlotte. While there’s still room for improvement, it was much better than Monday’s performance.
The Mountaineers made 4-of-18 of their free throws in a 55-41 loss to UNCG.
“The last game, it was very bad,” Kerns said. “I didn’t really talk about it because I’ve seen our team shoot free throws well, and we did everything that we normally do in practice yesterday.
“I think if it becomes something like that, talked about a little too much, now it becomes a little bit more of a mental thing.”
App State was put on the line frequently as Charlotte got within single digits.
The Mountaineers went 6-of-12 at the free-throw line in the final minute, staving off the 49ers last push.
“Just keep working on free throws, and our teammates are cheering us on even if we miss a free throws,” Williams said. “... I think that helps a lot, our teammates.”