TAMPA, Fla. — Appalachian State men’s basketball trimmed a 12-point second half deficit to as little as three points, but came up on the short end of a 76-69 decision at South Florida on Saturday afternoon.
With 4:51 remaining in the game, the Bulls (7-2) opened a 69-57 lead on a three-pointer by Alexis Yetna. From there, App State (4-6) scored the next nine points to trim the USF lead to 69-66 with 1:39 left in the game.
South Florida answered with the next three points, before a free throw from Isaac Johnson pulled the Black and Gold back to within five points at 72-67 with 35 seconds left. USF came right back with a pair of free throws, but App State got two freebies from Justin Forrest with 25 seconds left to trim its deficit to 74-69.
The Mountaineers fouled again and David Collins of USF hit two free throws with 19 seconds to play. The Mountaineers came down and a three-pointer by Forrest was no good. The Bulls grabbed the rebound and hung on for the victory.
A layup by Ronshad Shabazz at the 12:58 mark of the first half gave the Mountaineers a 14-12 advantage. The Bulls responded with the next 14 points to build a 26-14 lead. USF was able to take as large of a lead as 15 points in the first half, but App State cut its deficit to nine points, 38-29, at the break.
Shabazz tallied a game-high 29 points on 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) shooting, to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Also in the game, he moved into fifth place on the all-time scoring list, passing Billy Ross (1,656).
Forrest tallied 13 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 shooting at the charity stripe, while adding two assists and two steals.
Laquincy Rideau finished with a game-high 18 points for the Bulls. Yetna added 13 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, while Xavier Castaneda had 12 points and three rebounds off the bench.
App State went 27-of-62 (43.5 percent) from the field and 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe.
Appalachian State will return to action on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Georgetown. The contest will be broadcast on FS1.