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HomeSportsAPSU Basketball rallies to defeat Eastern Illinois 73-66 in the OVC Tournament

APSU Basketball rallies to defeat Eastern Illinois 73-66 in the OVC Tournament

APSU Sports Information

APSU Men's BasketballClarksville, TN – A dominant second-half effort lifted Austin Peay State University men’s basketball team to a 73-66 win against Eastern Illinois to advance the third-seeded Governors to the semifinals of the 2017-18 Ohio Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The victory pushes the Govs onward to Friday’s OVC semifinals, where they will face second-seeded Belmont in the 9:00pm contest.

Austin Peay Basketball point guard Zach Glotta scores 21 points in OVC Tournament win over Eastern Illinois Thursday night. (APSU Sports Information)
Austin Peay Basketball point guard Zach Glotta scores 21 points in OVC Tournament win over Eastern Illinois Thursday night. (APSU Sports Information)

To say that Eastern Illinois came out hot simply wouldn’t do the situation justice—the Panthers hit their first six shots from the floor, including three beyond the arc, to stake a 20-8 lead at the first media timeout.

While the Panthers inevitably cooled off on the offensive end, the Governors still had quite the job before them. What didn’t help Austin Peay in the first half was uncannily less efficient shooting than the Governors typically employ—Austin Peay shot just 32.3 percent (10-of-31) over the first 20 minutes.

Perhaps the Govs were just saving the fireworks for the second half; out of the break roared the third-seeded Governors, who opened the half on a 12-4 run and subsequently outscored Eastern Illinois 20-6 over the first seven-plus minutes of the frame to turn a 14-point deficit into a tie game.

The Govs and Eastern Illinois traded blows down the stretch, as the seventh-seeded Panthers began to feel the effects of their second game in 24 hours. As the half stretched on, the Governors seemed to have the fresher legs, getting good minutes from the bench unit—particularly Zach Glotta, who scored a career-high 21 points.

Glotta keyed the final stretch that saw the Govs finally blow the contest open. His three-pointer at the 8:05 mark kicked off 17-4 run that included another Glotta jumper and two big three-pointers from freshman Dayton Gumm as well; Eastern Illinois would get no closer than six points the rest of the way.

The Difference

Austin Peay rained threes down during the second half, hitting 8-of-12 from beyond the arc. Gumm and Glotta accounted for all eight, while Eastern Illinois hit just one triple in the second half.

Notably

The Governors are now 20-14 all-time in OVC quarterfinal contests, and have won 11 of 13 since 2001.

The 14-point comeback in the second half was Austin Peay’s largest since the 2016 OVC quarterfinals, when the Govs erased a 19-point deficit to top Tennessee State.

Ugba’s 20 points now have him averaging 18.0 points per game since Jan. 25.

With 18 wins, Matt Figger now has the most victories in his first season at Austin Peay since George Fisher in 1962-63. Additionally, he’s the first Austin Peay head coach to win his OVC Tournament debut since Ed Thompson (1977-78).

Glotta is averaging 14.1 points over his last eight games; in addition, he tied his career-high with five three-pointers and procured a career-best six rebounds tonight. The Governors are 9-1 this season when Glotta hits three or more from beyond the arc.

Freshman Terry Taylor pulled in 17 rebounds, his career-high and equaling Ugba’s performance at UT Martin for most by a Gov this season. Seven of those boards were on the offensive glass, giving him 119 offensive rebounds for the season—tied with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis (2011-12) and San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (2009-10) for 10th-most by a freshman since 2009-10.

As a team, the Govs outrebounded the Panthers by seven (41-34); Austin Peay is now 12-1 this season when outrebounding its opponent by five or more.

The Govs have now won six in a row against the Panthers, the longest streak for either squad since Austin Peay won 10 straight from 2006-09.

With Ivan Cucak sidelined, the Governors were back down to nine healthy players; Austin Peay is 3-0 this season when dressing nine men.

The Governors tied their season-high with 11 three-pointers on the evening.

Austin Peay blocked seven shots, tying a team season-high. Ugba, Taylor and junior Steve Harris each had multiple blocks, with Austin Peay moving to 3-0 this season when Ugba and Taylor both have multiple rejections.

Coaching Quotables with Head Coach Matt Figger

On the comeback
“Our guys came with a burst of energy in the second half. I wanted to get into these guys early, and I didn’t feel like we did a very good job of being ready to play; I wasn’t happy with how we came out. And I understand there are jitters and EIU played loose.

On the players
“I’ve got really good kids, and I get really upset with them when they come out at times and play mildly. But we talked about it at halftime; why put in all the effort we’ve put in over the course of the year and then come out and go through the motions?”

On Glotta
“He was great defensively. I thought for the second half, he was the best player on the floor.”

Next Up for APSU Men’s Basketball

Belmont, in a reunion eerily reminiscent of 2016—when Austin Peay, fresh off a second-half rally, met the Bruins in the semifinals en route to a championship. This one tips 9:00pm on ESPNU.

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