The Mountaineers (1-3) jumped out to a quick four-point lead (6-2), but the Pirates (4-0) reeled off a 14-4 run to jump out to a 16-10 lead and never trailed after that.
Appalachian State, which struggled defensively in its previous two outings, was able to keep the contest close throughout the first half thanks in large part to the play of Jay Canty who scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
After trailing by six points following ECU’s early run, the Mountaineers were able to chip away at the lead and draw within two (20-18) after back-to-back buckets by Tevin Baskin and Jamaal Trice with 9:10 left in the first half.
The Pirates responded with three-straight points to extend the lead to five (23-18), but Nathan Healy and Canty would score the next four points to pull the Apps within one.
ECU would lead by as many as seven points on two occasions in the closing moments of the half, but a three-pointer from Healy and back-to-back buckets by Trice and Canty cut the deficit to three (36-33) before the Pirates scored again to go into the break with a 38-33 lead.
After East Carolina opened the second half with a layup, the Mountaineers would notch the next five points to cut the deficit to two (40-38) as the teams began a back-and-forth battle that would ensue for the final half of play.
The Pirates built an eight point lead (48-40) with just over 15 minutes left to play and kept a lead that hovered between three and five points until Trice brought the Apps within two (55-53) with 9:36 remaining in the contest.
ECU would go on to mount a 10-3 run and jump out to a 65-56 lead with just over seven minutes left to play. Appalachian would make things interesting in the closing moments as another three from Healy and a jumper by Canty would make it 72-69 with 3:02 remaining, but the Pirates were able to make key stops and convert at the free-throw line down the stretch to keep their perfect record intact.
Canty led all scorers with a career-high 25 points while Healy notched his first career double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Baskin scored seven points, dished out five assists and grabbed 10 boards while Trice scored 10 points off the bench.
The Pirates were paced by Maurice Kemp’s team-high 21 points and four blocks while Robert Sampson poured in 17 and ripped down 18 board. Miguel Paul added 14 points and six assists.
Appalachian shot 42.6 percent (26-of-61) from the floor and converted 17-of-20 free throws. East Carolina shot 45.2 percent (28-of-62) on the night and connected on 22-of-30 shots at the foul line. The Pirates won the rebounding battle by a 40-37 margin and ripped down 13 offensive boards.
Appalachian State returns to action when it travels to Virginia Tech for a 2 p.m. contest on Friday.
GAME NOTES: Appalachian’s opening bucket to put it up 2-0 marked its first lead in the last 80:39 of the season... the Mountaineers never led in the previous two contests against High Point and Campbell... ECU finished with a 44-34 edge in points in the paint... Appalachian fell to 27-35 all-time against the Pirates... App State has dropped four-straight road contests dating back to last season... the Apps are 0-5 in their last five non-conference road games.
Sun Belt Conference