BOONE — This year has been a struggle for the Appalachian State Mountaineers, but for the first time all season, App State has won consecutive games after beating Georgia State on Thursday night, 76-67
Georgia State is the defending Sun Belt Conference Champion and entered the game against the Mountaineers with a 5-2 conference record, but thanks to a pair of 20-point scorers, App State pulled off a big home victory.
Frank Eaves poured in 25 points and topped the 1,000-point mark in his career and freshman Ronshad Shabazz added 20 points that included a 3-for-5 shooting effort from three-point range.
Senior Jacob Lawson scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots to lead the defense.
It was just one of those nights for the Mountaineers as they held a 38-22 halftime lead and led by as many as 19 points to knock off the reigning conference regular season and tournament champs.
The Mountaineers are now 5-13 overall and 3-4 in the Sun Belt while Georgia State dropped to 12-5 overall and 5-3 in the Sun Belt.
The 2015-16 season started off poorly for the Mountaineers, including a nine-game losing skid that the team had to suffer through.
However, the team has slowly started turning the corner as of late, winning three of its last four games that included an 86-72 win over Arkansas State, who was in first place at the time.
Thursday night’s game featured a strong shooting night from the Mountaineers. App State shot 43-percent overall, but hit 12-of-26 three-pointers (46-percent) and hit 18-of-21 free throws, good enough for an 86-percent shooting night.
For Georgia State, the overall shooting numbers were similar to the Mountaineers, but the Panthers hit just four three-point baskets and missed eight free throws.
Isaiah Dennis led Georgia State with 18 points and three steals. Jeff Thomas scored 17 off the bench. Kevin Ware added 11 points and three steals and Jeremy Hollowell had 10 points.
The Mountaineers also got solid contributions from Chris Burgess who scored 12 points and had a team-leading seven assists. Griffin Kinney had four points and seven rebounds and Michael Obacha added three points and five boards.
Georgia State dominated in the paint, outscoring App State by a 34-14 margin, but thanks to the three-point shot falling for the Mountaineers, the team was able to overcome the disappointing performance in the interior.
App State will hit the road for a pair of conference games this week. First up, the Mountaineers head to Troy on Thursday and then go to South Alabama on Saturday.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87