The rail-thin, 6-3 sophomore lit up the
Seminoles for 21 of his 27 points in the second half to help Louisiana Tech snap a season-ending three-game losing streak with a 71-66 win at Florida State in a first-round National Invitational Tournament game Tuesday night.
Freshman Alex Hamilton, who comes from nearby Chipley, Fla., added 16 points to help Louisiana Tech rally from a nine-point second half deficit.
Appleby, who made 12 of 19 shots overall, made three quick baskets in a 52-second span that keyed an 11-0 run that gave the lower-seeded
Bulldogs a 37-35 lead.
"That really got me going," Appleby said. "When I get going, I feel real good with my flow and that's what happened in the second half."
And Florida State couldn't find an answer as Appleby hit 9 of 12 shots from the floor in the decisive final half when the Bulldogs shot 65.5 percent.
"To do it against a really good defensive program like Florida State really has to give him a lot of confidence," Bulldogs' coach Michael White said.
"They were a little more aggressive," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said, noting the Seminoles' 18 turnovers. "They were quicker to the ball and created those deflections and opportunities because of playing at that high level of energy that we just didn't seem to match."
Louisiana Tech (27-6) will meet the winner of Wednesday's game between Southern Miss and Charleston Southern in second-round NIT play.
"We were 26-3 and came in here 26-6," White said, noting the three-game, season-ending collapse that likely cost his club a shot at the NCAA tournament. "But this heals a couple of wounds."
Michael Snaer led Florida State with 24 points in his final game for the Seminoles while junior Okaro White added 11. Snaer's 14 points in the first half led Florida State to a 28-24 lead. Snaer finished his career in eighth place on the school's scoring charts with 1,560 points.
But the Seminoles couldn't overcome a 36-29 rebounding deficit and the turnovers.
"We turned the ball over without really giving them a chance to work for it," Hamilton lamented. "That's what I'm disappointed in."
Florida State (18-16) completed a disappointing season after winning its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship a year ago.
"It was a learning process," Hamilton said about a season when he used five freshmen and two junior college transfers in his lineup. "We need to be sure we come back a little more mature."
Coincidentally, Louisiana Tech went 18-16 a year ago.
"I think we'll be right back in the mix," Hamilton said.