Appalachian needs to get respond quickly to its first home loss of the season. The best way to do that might be by playing the Furman Paladins. Surprisingly, Furman has won two games in a row over Western Carolina and Samford, and has been playing a bunch of close games of late. Furman only lost by three to conference leading Chattanooga, which represents their only loss in their past five games. Appalachian made rather easy work of the Paladins earlier this season in a fourteen point win. Furman (10-12, 6-7) is playing for seeding down the stretch. They are only 2.5 games behind Appalachian and 1.5 games behind fifth place Samford. If they could finish around 10-10 in conference play, that could sneak them into the sixth seed, and perhaps into the fifth seed, depending on Samford and other tiebreakers.
Appalachian is a much more skilled team than Furman, and I fully expect the Mountaineers to respond to their poor performance on Saturday. Furman is always a game team, and they beat Appalachian two years ago in Boone in one of the final homes games of the season. The game had no impact on conference standings, but it was a gloomy loss.
It was a big night for the stars of the women’s team. Appalachian had to fight to keep Furman at bay for the entire game, but their efforts were good enough for a ten point win. Anna Freeman got behind the defense for several easy layups that led to her shooting 9/15 from the field for 24 points. Anna also was big on the glass, pulling down 12 rebounds. Maryah Sydnor was also effective scoring 19 points and Kelsey Sharkey continued her strong play with 10 points and seven rebounds.
As a team, Appalachian only attempted three shots from behind the arc, but went to the free throw line often. The Mountaineers were 19/25 from the line, outscoring Furman by twelve points at the charity stripe. Appalachian also outrebounded Furman by nine and actually hit the offensive boards for one of the first times all season. The Mountaineers had been getting killed on the offensive glass, but grabbed eleven on Monday evening. Next up for the Mountaineers is Wofford on Saturday for the annual Play4Kay charity game.
C-Note: Anna Freeman scored her 1700th point in the first half, and her 24 points for the game took her to 1,710 points for her career. Anna grabbed her 900th rebound three games ago against Georgia Southern and currently has 918 career rebounds.
Appalachian and Furman will face off for the first and only time this season in the regular season. Furman has had a rough year, but has been playing better of late as well. The Paladins(6-16, 3-8) are in the midst of a three game losing streak. Their three conference wins are over UNCG, Georgia Southern and Wofford, all since January 14th. The Paladins are 1-9 on the road this year overall, that only win coming at UNCG.
Colin Reddick is the only Paladin averaging in double figures at 12.9 points per game. Charlie Reddick adds 9.8 points per game and Stephen Croone adds 9.3 points per game. Both Reddick’s lead Furman in rebounding, combining for almost twelve rebounds per game. Furman is fresh off of a four game homestand and will be playing their first road game since January 24th.
Appalachian remains in contention for the fourth seed in the conference tournament. Appalachian is in a tie for fifth with Western Carolina at 6-6, sitting only a half game behind Samford, who sits at 6-5, having played one fewer game. Appalachian has already split with Western this season, and will play Samford in a couple of weeks at home. This game is one that the Mountaineers need in order to stay in contention. It is a game that should be considered a must-win, especially with a big game at Elon on Thursday looming. The remainder of the schedule for Appalachian stay in the state of North Carolina. Three home games follow the road games at Elon, and Greensboro on Sunday.
The spread has opened up at 7.5 points. Furman has covered some games recently, and that is a shaky number. If it goes higher, I will be highly tempted to take Furman.
2:13 UPDATE: Line has dropped to 6.5, which I fully expected. I believe that is a great 50/50 number. Furman is bad, but can Appalachian respond after the whooping at Davidson? We will ride the Apps.
Another game, another long stretch without scoring points, allowing the visiting team to get back in the game. Appalachian led by 18 points in the first half, at 34-16 with 4:13 remaining in the first half. It appeared Appalachian was going to cruise to an easy victory, until the Mountaineers decided to go to the locker room with time still remaining. Not only did Appalachian not hit a field goal in the final four minutes of the first half, they could not even get to the free throw line. They went scorless in the final minutes of the first half.
Furman pulled to within six points at halftime and slowly chipped away at the Mountaineer lead. With 1:31 to play, Furman cut the deficit to one point after hitting a three. Appalachian would outscore Furman 8-3 in the final ninety seconds to hold onto second place in the SoCon North. Chattanooga knocked off Samford to give the Bulldogs their sixth conference loss, one half game behind Appalachian and Western who are tied for second, 2,5 games behind first place Elon. Appalachian vists Elon on Thursday night, which will basically eliminate the Mountaineers from SoCon North contention if they lose.
Nathan Healy had a double-double for the Mountaineers with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Michael Obacha scored a season high 14 points, by going 6/6 from the free throw line. Obacha has been shooting 50% from the free throw line prior to the Furman game.
Appalachian fell one point shy of covering the spread in heartbreaking fashion. That is the second time this season Appalachian lost a huge lead at home with a manageable spread and lost the cover. The other was Georgia Southern. We expect Appalachian to be underdogs to Elon on Thursday night.