for this game

Pacific topples Appalachian State 64-56

Mar 26, 2010 - 3:41 AM BOONE, N.C.(AP) -- Sam Willard scored 22 points and Pacific held off a late push against Appalachian State on Thursday for a 64-56 victory and a spot in the College tournament final.

Pacific (23-11) on Tuesday will face Missouri State (23-12), which beat Creighton 67-61 in the other semifinal.

Demetrece Young added 12 points for Pacific, which had a lead of around 20 points most of the game, until the Mountaineers held the Tigers without a field goal in a two-minute stretch late in the second half.

The Tigers, who had won at Northern Colorado to reach the semifinals, tired down the stretch, missing their first five 3-point attempts in the half. Appalachian State (24-23) missed its next four field-goal attempts after getting within 58-53.

Donald Sims led Appalachian State with 22 points. He keyed each of the Mountaineers' runs, but the rest of Appalachian State's starters shot 7 of 28 combined.

"They got physical with Donald, and he was a marked man," Appalachian State coach Buzz Peterson said. "Someone else had to step in."

Pacific, which arrived in Boone after road wins at Loyola Marymount and Northern Colorado, had a series of travel mishaps that resulted in a postponement Wednesday.

"The energy aspect of it is all mental," Pacific coach Bob Thomason said. "I think it was to our advantage that they thought we'd come in here tired. We played awfully well early."

The Tigers, the Big West champions, tired down the stretch, missing all seven of their 3-point attempts in the half, en route to 27.6 percent shooting after halftime.

Appalachian State, which lost in the Southern Conference tournament final against Wofford, missed its next four field-goal attempts after drawing within 58-53, and gave up two offensive rebounds with a chance to cut the lead even further.

"Maybe we were overlooking them a bit early, skipping ahead to the championship," said Mountaineers guard Kellen Brand, whose altercation late in the first half with Tigers guard Terrell Smith resulted in an intentional foul on Smith after a two-hand push to Brand's chest put him on his back.

"They had their focus in the game early, and stepped it up."

Thomason said his team had three flights scheduled out of Charlotte, a two-hour drive from Boone, on Friday, but he was taking nothing for granted, after Pacific's trip across America to the tournament final. The main highway between Boone and Charlotte was closed Thursday night for construction.

"I swear they want us out of this tournament," he joked.