NEW ORLEANS, La. – The fifth seeded Appalachian State men’s basketball team fell in the Sun Belt Tournament Quarterfinals by an 84-68 score to fourth seed Texas Arlington on Friday at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
Senior Griffin Kinney (Delaware, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy) led the Mountaineers (15-18) with a team-high 22 points on 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) shooting, to go along with six rebounds. The 22 points marks the second time this season that Kinney eclipsed the 20-point plateau, also scoring 28 points at Akron on December 9.
Freshman Justin Forrest (Decatur, Ga./Greenforest McCalep Christian Academy) added 17 points, while junior Ronshad Shabazz (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep) chipped in with 10 points.
Sophomore Isaac Johnson (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day) finished a basket and a rebound shy of a double-double, tallying eight points and nine rebounds.
Erick Neal paced UT Arlington (20-12) with a game-high 37 points, while Kevin Hervey had 17 points and five rebounds off the bench. UTA advances to the Sun Belt Tournament Semifinals with the victory and will take on top seed Louisiana on Saturday.
The Mavericks jumped out to an early 12-6 lead and used a 11-0 run later in the half to build a 28-12 advantage.
App State would cut into the Maverick lead and a late basket by Isaac Johnson trimmed the UT Arlington advantage to 43-31 at the break.
In the second half, Kinney would open the scoring with a basket. But UTA came right back with a 10-0 run to build its lead to 53-33 with 17:44 to play.
The Mountaineers would battle back and were able to cut the Maverick lead to 59-45 with just over 10 minutes to play. UTA was able to respond with the next four points to push its lead back to 18 points.
The Black and Gold were able to trim the Maverick lead to 14 points five more times but were unable to get any closer.
App State shot 23-of-68 (33.8 percent) from the field, while UTA went 30-of-57 (52.6 percent). The Mountaineers won the rebounding battle 42-33, including a 17-3 edge on the offensive glass.