Appalachian St. 86, W. Carolina 69
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Steve Spurlock and Tim Powers worked inside during an early second-half spurt as Appalachian State shook off a slow start to beat Western Carolina 86-69 Friday night in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament.
The fourth-seeded Mountaineers (15-13) have beaten the Catamounts 12 straight times and 16 of the last 17.
Appalachian State will have about 12 hours of rest before taking on top- seeded East Tennessee State in one semifinal matchup Saturday. The three- time defending Southern Conference champs have beaten the Mountaineers in the last two title games.
The fifth-seeded Catamounts, who dressed only nine players because of injuries, closed the season at 11-17. Their loss was overshadowed by Terry Boyd’s shooting performance. The senior guard hit for a game-high 33 points after scoring 42 in a first-round loss last year.
After leading by two points at halftime, the Mountaineers went on a 20-7 run to start the half and took a 58-43 lead with 13:25 remaining. During the spurt, Spurlock scored eight points and Powers six as both big men worked inside for good shots and rebounding position.
The closest the Catamounts got the rest of the way was 60-53 with 8:54 left after a shot jumper by Robert Gaines.
Billy Ross led the Mountaineers with 23 points, while Spurlock and Powers finished with 16 each. Spurlock also pulled down 15 rebounds.
Western Carolina led by six points on three different occasions in the final eight minutes of the opening half, but didn’t score a basket in the last 5 minutes, enabling the Mountaineers to rally for a 38-36 intermission lead.
Ross tied the scored on a layup after the third of three straight Catamount turnovers and Chad McClendon’s 8-foot baseline jumper with nine seconds remaining gave Appalachian State a two-point lead.