ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Appalachian State men’s basketball cut a 30-point second half deficit to just four points, but fell 79-71 in its season opener at Michigan on Tuesday evening.
With 12:59 left in the game, Michigan (1-0) opened a 67-37 lead. From there, App State (0-1) scored nine straight points to cut the Wolverine lead to 67-46 with just over 10 minutes to play.
Following a Wolverine three, the Mountaineers scored 18 consecutive points, with 11 coming from Justin Forrest, to pull within six points at 70-64 with 2:23 to play.
After a Michigan layup, Adrian Delph drained a deep 3-pointer with 38 seconds left to cut the Mountaineer deficit to five points at 72-67.
The Mountaineers continued to draw closer and pulled within four points at 73-69 on a pair of free throws from Isaac Johnson with 20 seconds left. Over a span of 12:39 in the second half, the Black and Gold outscored Michigan 32-6. In addition, the Mountaineers held a 46-33 edge in scoring in the second half.
From there, Michigan drained four free throws to push its lead back to eight points and held on for the 79-71 victory.
Michigan used an early 10-0 run to build a 14-point lead at 19-5 seven minutes into the contest. Trailing 25-8, the Mountaineers countered with 11 of the next 13 points to trim its deficit to 27-17 with just under eight minutes remaining in the half. The Wolverines used a 7-0 run later in the half and pushed their lead to 46-25 at the half.
Forrest paced the Black and Gold with a game-high 27 points, including 18 in the second half.
Johnson finished with nine points, seven rebounds and two steals, Off the bench, Kendall Lewis had nine points and two steals and Michael Bibby added six points and a career-high five rebounds.
The Mountaineers will return to Boone for two straight home games. App State will host Ferrum on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in its home opener and East Carolina on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Season tickets and single game tickets for the 2019-20 season are on sale and can be purchased by calling the App State ticket office at 828-262-2079.