Sunday afternoon UMKC played host to the Southern League’s Appalachian State Mountaineers. On paper it seemed like a great opportunity for the 4-5 Roos to get back to 0.500 on the year, but games are decided on the court and the 1-7 Mountaineers were up to the challenge, hit their shots and left Kansas City with an 81-71 victory.
In the first half, the Roos held the lead for a total of two minutes and nine seconds and even then the margin was just a single point. On the other side, the Mountaineers pushed their advantage out to as many as nine points and controlled the bulk of the half. UMKC clawed back from that deficit and nearly went into the break with the lead but a layup by Jay Canty with two seconds on the clock sent Appalachian State into the locker room up 33-32.
UMKC started the second half off by forcing a turnover and a Fred Chatmon dunk sparked a 6-1 run. With 13:44 left in the game the two teams were deadlocked in a 44-44 battle, but from that point on the Mountaineers outscored the Roos 37-27 while shooting 62% from the floor in the half.
While Appalachian State shot 55.3% overall, UMKC wasn’t far behind at 51.0% and the two teams were evenly matched across the board statistically. The primary separation between the two came at the free throw line where the Mountaineers made 23 of 30 attempts. The Roos were nearly perfect from the line missing only once but didn’t get nearly as many opportunities (16-17).
Nelson Kirksey didn’t start the game for the Roos but played 31 minutes and led the team with 18 points on 8-8 shooting. His three steals and three rebounds also tied for the team lead. Estan Tyler made three of his four attempts from beyond the arc and finished with 15 points, two rebounds and two assists. He was the only Kangaroo to make a three point attempt as the rest of the team went 0-10. With twelve points in 20 minutes, Thomas Staton was also in double figures and added three steals.
Junior forward Tevin Baskin came off the bench to lead Appalachian State with 18 points and sophomore guard Tab Hamilton was close behind with 17 points on 4-5 shooting. Tab was a perfect 8-8 on his free throws and added three assists. Jamaal Trice contributed 16 points and was 4-5 from beyond the arc while Jay Canty had twelve points and six rebounds.
Riding the high of their first road win, the Mountaineers (2-7) are set to face the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-3) on Wednesday. It will be their seventh road game in their last eight, but will finally get to return home with a game against the Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-8) on Saturday.
Given that Appalachian State proved to be too much for the Roos, it’s hard to be optimistic about their chances against Iowa State (8-3) on Wednesday. The game will be in Kansas City but held off campus at Municipal Auditorium which has probably seen more hoops action in its history than any other venue in the country. Iowa State comes to town ranked 7th in the nation in scoring (82.7 ppg) and 5th in rebounds (44.5 rpg) with a deep and talented roster. Six Cyclones average better than nine points per game and nine players on their roster average at least ten minutes of court time. They are led by senior guard Will Clyburn who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Junior forward Melvin Ejim is averaging nearly a double-double with 9.3 rebounds per game and is third on the team in scoring (11.0 ppg).