BOONE — A four-point play from half-court with less than a second left gave Georgia Southern the most improbable of improbable wins on Monday night against Appalachian State.
Trailing by a 100-97 score, Georgia Southern guard Mike Hughes launched a desperation three-point shot from near half-court. The shot went in and App State guard Chris Burgess was whistled for a foul, giving Hughes a free throw with a chance to give the Eagles a one-point lead with 0.8 seconds left.
Hughes buried the free throw to give the Eagles a 101-100 lead. A full court pass attempt by the Mountaineers sailed harmlessly out of bounds, putting an end to one of the more heartbreaking losses you’ll ever see.
Throughout the rest of the game, it was a good old fashioned shootout between two of the better scoring guards in the conference. Georgia Southern’s Tookie Brown and App State’s Frank Eaves went head to head and each carried their respective teams down the stretch for a chance to win it.
Brown finished with 34 points while Eaves led all players with 37 points, including hitting 9-of-16 shots from three-point range.
Ronshad Shabazz added 29 points for the Mountaineers while Jacob Lawson scored nine points and Jake Babic added seven points, both off the bench.
Georgia Southern ended up with five scorers in double figures. Hughes, who netted the game-winner, scored 19 points and and had a team-high nine rebounds. Devonte Boykins scored 15, Jake Allsmiller added 11 and Shawn O’Connell had 10.
The Mountaineers dropped to 5-14 overall and 3-5 in the Sun Belt. The Eagles improved to 7-11 and 3-5 in Sun Belt action.
It has been a tough year for the young Mountaineer squad, but head coach Jim Fox is not hanging his head.
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be record wise, but the development of our younger players, the experience they’re gaining, is extremely valuable,” said Coach Fox. “Now that we’re starting to play better, starting to get a little confidence I think it has showed in the last couple of games.”
Next up, Appalachian travels to South Alabama on Saturday with tip-off set for 8:05 p.m.
Sun Belt standings
1. Arkansas-Little Rock: 17-2, 7-1
2. UT-Arlington: 14-4, 5-2
3. Georgia State: 12-5, 5-3
4. Louisiana-Lafayette: 9-8, 5-3
5. Arkansas State: 9-10, 5-3
6. Louisiana-Monroe: 8-11, 4-4
7. Texas State: 9-7, 3-4
8. Georgia Southern: 7-11, 3-5
9. Appalachian State: 5-14, 3-5
10. South Alabama: 7-12, 2-6
11. Troy: 6-13, 1-7
* The Mountaineer coaching staff will be wearing their sneakers with their suits this week for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer week.
* The Camellia Bowl celebration that was supposed to take place before the Georgia Southern game was postponed and rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20 when App State takes on Troy.
* Appalachian State is the top three-point shooting team in the Sun Belt, hitting 37-percent of its shots from the perimeter.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87