DURHAM, N.C. – App State men’s basketball cut a 13-point halftime deficit to just five, but fell at No. 2-ranked Duke 92-67 on Thursday evening.
After trailing 50-37 at the break, App State (6-6) came out of the locker room and scored 11 of the first 14 points to pull within five points at 53-48 with 17:23 remaining. Duke (9-1) answered with a pair of free throws on its next possession, but Justin Forrest countered with two free throws to pull App State back within five points. From there, the Blue Devils drained three consecutive 3-pointers for a 9-0 run and expanded its lead to 64-50 with 15:10 left.
The Mountaineers pulled within 12 points, but could get no closer as Duke pulled away down the stretch for the victory.
App State opened the game with the first four points, using a jumper from Forrest and a layup from Michael Almonacy. The Blue Devils countered with a 10-2 run to open a 10-6 lead, but App State used back-to-back threes from Almonacy and Forrest to take a 12-10 edge with just over 16 minutes left in the first half.
Trailing 20-16, Almonacy scored five consecutive points to put App State in front 21-20. Duke answered with a 3-pointer, but Almonacy came right back with a trey of his own to put the Black and Gold up 24-23. The Blue Devils countered with a 7-0 run to open a 30-24 lead. App State pulled within two points at 30-28 on a basket from Michael Eads Jr. and trimmed the Blue Devil lead to a point at 32-31 with 5:20 left in the opening half on a trey from Eads Jr. Duke used a 10-0 run later in the half to build a 44-33 lead and opened a 13-point lead at intermission.
Almonacy finished with 17 points, while recording three assists and a pair of steals. Forrest added 16 points, going 9-of-11 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line.
Donovan Gregory pulled down a season-high tying nine rebounds (four offensive) and had three assists.
App State won the rebounding battle 31-30 and held a 13-7 edge on the offensive glass. The Mountaineers outscored the Blue Devils 19-12 in second chance points.
App State returns to action on Tuesday evening with a road contest at North Carolina in its non-conference finale. Tip is set for 7 p.m. on ACC Network.