APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – Rivalry weekend lived up to its hype as Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team downed Murray State 75-69 in the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border, Saturday.
Energy and emotion were in abundant supply, Saturday, as Austin Peay (16-3, 9-9 OVC) faced their arch rivals Murray State (11-18, 7-11 OVC) on senior night.
The Govs pushed the tempo early, working the ball inside to the post, scoring 14 points in the paint and six points off of fast break opportunities. Keisha Gregory and Brianne Alexander had several shots fall early, building confidence pulling up off the dribble drive.
A trio of Governors scored four points in the first period: Alexander, Gregory and Falon Baker. Nieja Crawford provided an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Governors a nine-point lead as the first quarter came to a close.
The Govs have weathered second quarter woes all season, and looked for a way to maneuver the shooting struggles, but could not match their first quarter offense. The Governors’ once nine-point lead turned into a six-point deficit at the half.
After the break, Austin Peay found their offensive rhythm, making a 6-0 run early in the third to erase the Racers’ lead. Alexander scored six points, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and rejecting Murray State offense inside, recording two blocks in the third period alone.
Gregory added five points while shooting 100.0 percent from the floor, and Arielle Gonzalez-Varner cleaned the boards for the Governors with four rebounds. Austin Peay outscored Murray State 16-13 cutting the Racers lead to three going into the final period.
The senior duo of Alexander and Baker combined for a dozen points, with Baker and back court partner Bri Williams draining deep three-point shots to bring the Governors back even with Murray State.
With seconds remaining in the game, Baker got the ball at the top of the key and drove hard into the lane pulling up with a shot to win the game, but the shot rimmed out, sending the final game of the regular season to overtime.
In overtime, the Govs could not find an answer for Ke’Shunan James in the overtime period as she scored six points for the Racers, but Austin Peay’s defense shut down the rest of Murray State’s offense, holding them scoreless in the extra five minutes.
The Governors’ suffocating defense turned into offense as they outscored Murray State 12-6 in overtime, with Baker and Williams leading the way with five points each, while Gregory iced the game with two gut-punching free throws to seal the win for Austin Peay, 75-69.
Keisha Gregory led the Govs with 19 points and nine rebounds, shooting 75.0 percent from three point territory. Seniors Alexander and Baker each posted 18-point efforts, finishing with six rebounds apiece.
Gonzalez-Varner continued her breakout season, pulling down a career high 14 rebounds, including eight offensive rebounds that the Govs converted into 15 points.
Williams, the Govs assist leader this season, dished out a season high seven assists in her final game in the Dunn Center, padding her stat line with eight points, including two crucial three-point shots.
Austin Peay honored three seniors: Alexander, Williams and Baker, prior to the game, Saturday.
The Govs have not lost on senior night since the 2013-14 season, and are a perfect 3-0 in the final game of the regular season in the Midlick era.
With the win, and a Southeast Missouri loss, Austin Peay secures the sixth seed in the Ohio Valley conference tournament.
Gregory led the Govs with 19 points, with Baker and Alexander also posting double digits with 18 points each.
The Govs outscored Murray State in three of the four quarters, and overtime to secure a Heritage Bank Battle of the Border victory.
The Govs had 26 points in the paint, and shot 50.0 percent from the field in their fourth-quarter comeback.
The Govs outrebounded the Racers 49-32 on the way to their senior night victory.
David Midlick’s Musings
“Effort, I actually think the team was a little embarrassed when we played Murray State on the road. Murray State is a really good basketball team and deserves to be in the tournament. They are going to be tough to play, and Ke’Shunan James is as good a player as there is in the conference, but our team was ready and we weathered storms well.
Gonzlez-Varner on the Boards
“We needed every one of her rebounds today, just like we did when we won by one against Tennessee Tech. She’s long and I thought she was aggressive going to the glass today, with Bri Alexander getting a lot of attention in double teams, it left space open for her to go get rebounds on the weak side.”
Running the Offense
“In the second quarter we stood around, but overall I thought the ball moved pretty well, and we were able to get some baskets in transition.”
“They have meant a lot to this team while they have been here. They produce on the floor, and more importantly they are good young ladies. They have represented Austin Peay well in the classroom, on the court and out in the community.”
Next Up for APSU Women’s Basketball
Austin Peay will continue its season with their fourth-straight Ohio Valley Conference Tournament appearance, 3:00pm, Thursday, March 1st at the Ford Center in Evansville, IN. The Governors will face third seeded SIU Edwardsville.