Mason scores career high as Camels defeat Appalachian St., 73-66
D.J. Mason scored a career-high 19 points and Campbell won in Boone for the first time as the Fighting Camels defeated Appalachian State 73-66 Tuesday night.
Darius Leonard added 16 points and Andrew Ryan scored 14 for the Camels (2-0), who led by 16 at the half and defeated the Mountaineers (0-2) for the third time in the last four meetings.
A sophomore forward from Clarkton, Mason came off the bench and hit 7-of-13 shots, 4-of-4 from the line, and pulled down five rebounds. Freshman point guard Quinton Ray dealt seven assists and made only one turnover in 34 minutes.
Mike Neal led Appalachian with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 4-of-10 from the line. Chris Burgess came off the bench to score 14, while Tab Hamilton added 10. Michael Obacha pulled down 15 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end.
Mason’s steal and dunk in transition and a move down under for a basket on the following possession gave the Camels a 66-51 lead with 6:22 remaining.
However, Burgess and Hamilton hit threes to cap an 11-0 run and Appalachian drew within 66-62 with 2:22 to play. Ryan’s foul shots pushed the lead back to six with 2:17 remaining and the hosts made only one field goal the rest of the way.
“It’s hard to hold on to leads like that (16 points) on the road,” said first-year Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan. “You know the other team is going to make it tough on you and make a run. But we did a great job of getting rebounds and being tough down the stretch.”
The Camels hit at least one shot each time in five trips to the line over the final 1:06. Campbell made 17-of-25 free throws on the night, compared to 9-of-22 for Appalachian.
Mason, whose previous career-best was 12 points last year at Charleston Southern, scored 12 of his 19 in the second period.
“There was a point in the game where I felt like D.J. wasn’t going to let us lose,” said McGeehan. “He has been improving so much in practice; I was expecting him to have a performance like this.”
Campbell made nine of its first 14 shots and jumped to a 20-6 lead with 11:56 left in the opening half after Ryan drained a triple. The opening burst included a 13-0 Camel run.
Leonard hit his first five shots and led all first-half scorers with 10 points, despite sitting out the final 13:51 of the period after picking up his second foul.
CU shot 50 percent (15-30) from the floor in the first half, and knocked down five triples, while Appalachian was 10-of-33 (.303) from the field in the opening stanza and 0-for-6 from three.
“Our defense was a lot better today and that bodes well for the future,” said McGeehan. “I thought we could win coming in, but I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. There were moments in the second half when we could have wilted, but we didn’t.”
Tuesday’s game was Campbell’s first in the Global Sports Shootout, a round-robin exempt tournament which takes place on campus sites. Cincinnati, which defeated N.C. Central 74-61 on Friday and N.C. State 68-57 on Tuesday, is the only team to play all four games at home.
Campbell travels to N.C. State Saturday for a 7 p.m. start. The Camels will host N.C. Central on Monday and play at Cincinnati Wednesday.