Citadel losing streak reaches nine with 80-67 loss to App State

by Jeff Hartsell, The Charleston Post and Courier
Thursday 1/23/14 10:42p

The Citadel carried its habit of making an All-America candidate out of opposing post players to extreme lengths Thursday night. This time, the beneficiary of the Bulldogs’ defensive efforts was Mike Kobani, a 6-8 freshman from Nigeria who had not played in five of Appalachian State’s last six games. Kobani scored a career-high 18 points, 12 of them in the final 7:04 of the game, as App State got its first win at McAlister Field House since 2006 with an 80-67 victory before 1,322 fans.

The Bulldogs (4-17, 0-6 Southern Conference) lost their ninth straight game by allowing the worst-shooting team in the league to make 55.7 percent of its shots, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
“I thought we’d play better defensively,” said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell. “We had been playing pretty well defensively. But tonight, our defense was non-existent. We’re disappointed in that and we’ll have to figure out why.”

App State (6-13, 2-4), which had not defeated a Division I team before Saturday’s 81-68 win over Georgia Southern, riddled the Bulldogs’ D inside and out. Guards Tab Hamilton and Mike Neal went for 18 and 13 points, respectively, while Kobani made 9 of 10 shots, all of them layups. App State entered the game averaging 71.1 points and shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 30.1 percent from 3-point range, both figures last in the SoCon.

“Our ball screen defense was very weak at the beginning, and it hasn’t been,” Driesell said. “Our post defense, we let a big man come off the bench and score 18 points, and he was averaging (five). We didn’t defend, and you are not going to win if you don’t play good defense.” With point guard Marshall Harris out with a sore foot, The Citadel got points from only four players. But all four were in double figures; Matt Van Scoyc matched his career high with 24 points, while Ashton Moore added 18, Quinton Marshall 13 and Brian White 12.

The Bulldogs’ defensive problems were illustrated by the plight of Van Scyoc, a 6-6, 218-pound swingman who at times found himself guarding the 250-pound Kobani and 6-8, 215-pound forward Michael Obacha. The Citadel’s two post players off the bench, C.J. Bray and P.J. Horgan, combined for no points and three rebounds in 21 minutes. In six SoCon games, the other team’s chief post player is averaging 23 points and 9.6 rebounds.

“We just didn’t have an answer for them in the paint,” said Van Scyoc. “I don’t even know the name of the guy who came in and scored 18. We’ve got to shore that up. There’s no excuse for a guy averaging five points to come in and get 18. We’ve got to get tougher.” App State, which entered the game 0-9 on the road, grabbed a 40-32 lead at the break with its best first half since the Mountaineers scored 53 against Bluefield College on Dec. 30. The lead reached 15 at 63-48 on a trey by Frank Eaves with 8:34 left in the game.

The Bulldogs got it back down to nine, but couldn’t handle Kobani down the stretch. App State broke The Citadel’s press time and again to get him the ball down low, and Kobani scored App State’s final eight points.

The Citadel ends a three-game homestand Saturday against Western Carolina (11-10, 4-2), which dropped an 82-77 decision to Davidson on Thursday. Marshall Harris had a streak of 61 straight starts snapped as he sat out the game with a sore foot. Freshman Warren Sledge made his first start and had no points and four assists in 30 minutes.

Citadel bench players went 0 for 5 from the field (all the shots from Horgan) and were shut out for the first time this season. Forward Bray played for the first time in four games and guard Rae Robinson for the first time in six games. Forward Dylen Setzekorn (staph infection) is back with the team but did not dress. He hasn’t played since Dec. 29.


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