NCCU stops Appalachian State in OT, avoids 'trap game' fate
It took overtime to decide this one between N.C. Central and Appalachian State on Friday, a 76-70 win by the Eagles that in the beginning looked like a blowout was brewing.
NCCU’s Reggie Groves got a clean look from distance and drained it with 20 seconds left in the extended session. His 3-pointer gave the Eagles a 74-70 lead, and teammate Jeremy Ingram cushioned the margin with 7 ticks on the clock.
“I come in the gym and shoot every day, preparing myself for that shot,” Groves said.
But it was Ingram’s heavy lifting — a career-high 36 points — that gave NCCU some wiggle room.
NCCU was the heavy when the game started. There was no feeling-out process for the Eagles, no tiptoeing around in McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium. They were on their home court and sought to impose their will straight out of the gate.
Appalachian State has been a Division I program far longer than NCCU. Yet the Eagles were the ones playing as if they’d been around the block a time or two, playing like they owned the block, making the Mountaineers react to them.
It was the Eagles’ first time back on the court since their signature overtime win at N.C. State on Wednesday.
NCCU shot 52.2 percent from the field in the first half and took a 32-18 lead into halftime. Appalachian State shot 20 percent.
The teams flipped scripts in the second half, with the Mountaineers shooting 51.6 percent to NCCU’s 37.5 percent.
Appalachian State guard Chris Burgess got warm during the final 20 minutes of regulation, using the 3 ball to close the gap on the Eagles.
“He made some trey balls, man, and he really got those guys some momentum and some confidence,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.
But Moton has a killer in Ingram, who made it a 58-58 game with 3:17 to go in regulation with a shot he threw off the glass and into the basket while falling to the ground.
Appalachian State coach Jason Capel said Ingram is one of the best scorers in the country.
The Mountaineers didn’t do anything special to make a game of it in the second half — they just made up their minds to play hard, Capel said.
“We had a chance to win,” Capel said. “We needed one stop, one rebound and we’d have walked out of here a happy ball club.”
NCCU got lax on defense in the second half, Ingram said.
“Our wings weren’t really locking down on defense,” Ingram said.
NCCU has played three games in five days. Moton said that looked doable when he was putting together the schedule before the season started. But injuries have since given him fewer bodies to work with, and the lack of depth means less guys playing more minutes. That wipes out the Eagles’ legs, leaving their shots short and making them vulnerable on the defensive end.
But “this game is a game of runs,” Moton said.
The team that makes the last run usually wins, and that team Friday night was NCCU.
|NC CENTRAL 76, APPALACHIAN ST. 70, OT|
Percentages: FG .371, FT .633.
3-Point Goals: 5-22, .227 (Burgess 3-6, Eaves 2-7, Toney 0-1, Neal 0-1, Baskin 0-2, Hamilton 0-5).
Team Rebounds: 8.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Baskin 2).
Turnovers: 12 (Toney 6, Hamilton 3, Obacha, Baskin, Eaves).
Steals: 6 (Hamilton 3, Obacha 2, Burgess).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .436, FT .742.
3-Point Goals: 5-19, .263 (Ingram 2-8, Groves 1-2, Houston 1-2, Jawara 1-3, Parks 0-1, Chapman 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Jawara 2, Chapman, Groves, Copeland).
Turnovers: 14 (Ingram 5, Chapman 4, Groves 3, Copeland, Parks).
Steals: 8 (Chapman 2, Houston 2, Parks, Jawara, Ingram, Copeland).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Frankie Bordeaux, Haywood Bostic, Dwayne Carnes.