Greenville, S.C. – Freshman Mike Neal scored 18 points and Appalachian State converted on 30-of-38 free throw attempts en route to a 79-69 victory over Furman in Southern Conference men's basketball action Thursday evening on YP.com Court at Timmons Arena.
With the victory, Appalachian State improved to 10-14 overall and 6-8 in league play while snapping a three-game losing streak. Furman dipped to 12-13 overall and 6-8 in the SoCon with its second straight defeat.
Neal, who led the Mountaineers in scoring in their January 12th win over Furman, made 12-of-14 free throws and was joined in double figures by G.J. Vilarino with 13 points and Andre Williamson with 10. Appalachian State drained just three treys on the night and shot only 41% from the field, but buried 11-of-14 first half free throws before making good on 19-of-24 trips to the charity stripe in the second half.
Furman jumped out to a 17-8 lead in the opening seven minutes of the game behind five points from Charlie Reddick and four from Chris Toler, but the Paladins managed just one field goal over a stretch of 5:28 as the Mountaineers fashioned a 15-2 run to grab a 23-19 advantage late in the half. Richard Brown helped ignite a Furman run to regain the lead before Appalachian closed the half on a 10-4 spurt to take a 33-31 halftime advantage.
Furman forged the third deadlock of the second half on a Brown basket with 14:59 remaining to knot the contest at 41-41, but Neal scored on a driving layup and completed the three-point play at the foul line to start an 8-0 Appalachian State run that gave the Mountaineers the lead for good. The Paladins trimmed the margin back to three points on two occasions in the final eight minutes only to see Appalachian State answer at the foul line to hold on for the win.
Senior Brandon Sebirumbi led the Paladins with 14 points, Bobby Austin poured in 10 and Toler notched a career-high nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. Furman shot just 40% as a team, including 11-for-31 in the second half, and made only 6-of-20 three-point attempts.
Appalachian State, which completed the season sweep of the Paladins, held a 37-36 rebounding edge and outscored Furman in the paint, 30-28.
The Mountaineers return home to host Wofford on Saturday while Furman prepares to host Western Carolina on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Furman fans can follow all the action of Saturday's game on the radio with play-by-play voice Dan Scott and color commentator Ron Smith on WOLT-FM 103.3, WGOG-FM 96.3 and through Stretch Audio at www.FurmanPaladins.com.
Tickets for the contest are available at the Timmons Arena Ticket Office or by logging onto www.FurmanPaladins.com. The All-Inclusive Ticket, $15 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission, includes unlimited free concessions.