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APSU Men’s Basketball comes from behind to beat Central Connecticut, 80-78

 

APSU Sports Information

APSU Men's BasketballMontego Bay, Jamaica – It’s been four games, but Austin Peay State University men’s basketball team has already been through a season’s worth of intrigue and suspense, the latest in a heart-stopping 80-78 win against Central Connecticut to kick off the island portion of the 2018 Jamaica Classic at the Montego Bay Convention Center.

The Govs evened their record at 2-2 on the season after erasing a nine-point first half deficit, while Central Connecticut falls to 2-2 on its season.

Austin Peay Men's Basketball come from nine points down in final minutes to defeat Central Connecticut 80-78 in Jamaica Classic held at the Montego Bay Convention Center. (APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay Men’s Basketball come from nine points down in final minutes to defeat Central Connecticut 80-78 in Jamaica Classic held at the Montego Bay Convention Center. (APSU Sports Information)

Things did not start promisingly for the Govs, who were 1-for-11 from the floor to start the game. However, Austin Peay settled after the rough start—and the 9-2 hole the Governors found themselves in—and soon had the game within a bucket.

What ensued was an up-and-down first half marked by pace and ball control—even though the Governors 37.8 percent mark from the floor was far below Central Connecticut’s 51.7 percent mark, Austin Peay got myriad second-chance opportunities thanks to 10 offensive boards and committed just two turnovers during the game’s first 20 minutes.

A three-minute burst saw the Blue Devils stake their largest lead of the game thanks to a 9-2 run, but the Govs rallied once more, tying the game with just under three minutes to go in the half on a Terry Taylor layup and briefly taking the lead on free-throws from senior Zach Glotta and a Taylor three. However, Central Connecticut’s Deion Bute beat the buzzer with a layup to send the game into halftime tied.

Where Austin Peay was ice cold to start the first half, the Govs came out blazing in the second, hitting six of their first eight shots to take a four-point lead, growing it to nine by the 12-minute media timeout. No Gov can claim total credit for the early barrage, as seven of the eight Govs who saw action scored during the first 8:21 of the half.

Central Connecticut did not go away quietly. As the teams traded buckets in the second half, the Blue Devils began to chip away at the Austin Peay lead, cutting it to two points with 1:17 remaining.

After a missed jumper by Glotta, the Blue Devils held the ball for a long possession that included three second-chance opportunities before senior Steve Harris was able to corral the rebound, forcing Central Connecticut to foul Glotta, who made both. On the ensuing possession, Tyson Batiste hit a three to keep the Blue Devils within a point, but grad transfer Jarrett Givens hit both free-throws when he was fouled in the back court.

Up three with 6.2 seconds left, Austin Peay wisely fouled Tyler Kohl to send him to the line for a 1-and-1; he made the first and then, ball-faking a quick shot to draw people into the lane, was whistled for a lane violation per the NCAA rule book. The Govs were able to run out the clock for the victory.

The Difference

Sometimes it comes down to the basics, and the Govs did those things extremely well on Friday morning. Austin Peay outrebounded Central Connecticut by 10 (44-43) and where the Blue Devils made just 52.6 percent (10-for-19) of their free-throws, the Govs were nearly perfect, hitting 94.7 percent (18-for-19) at the line.

APSU Notably

The Govs picked up their first-ever win against an Northeast Conference foe.

Austin Peay held Kohl, the nation’s No. 16 scorer, to just 14 points, well below his season average (25.0 ppg).

Taylor picked up his season’s third double-double in just his fourth contest; last year, that didn’t happen until his seventh appearance. His 17 rebounds equaled a career-high and, just  

Givens equaled his career-high as a Governor with 16 points. For good measure, he scored his 600th career point.

Glotta has made 11 straight free-throws to start the season and 12 straight since last season. He also scored his 500th career point as a Governor.

The Govs picked up their first regular-season neutral-site win since 2016.

In his second career start, sophomore Ivan Cucak registered a career-high eight points.

Austin Peay committed just seven turnovers, its fewest since a Feb. 16, 2017 contest against Eastern Illinois.

Harris was credited with a career-high five assists as the primary point guard.

The 94.7 percent mark from the free-throw line was Austin Peay’s best since hitting that same mark against Southeast Missouri, Feb. 25, 2017.

Thirteen fouls are the fewest called on the Govs since the 2018 finale against UIC.

The Govs picked up their season’s first win when shooting less than 45 percent from the floor.

Coaching Quotables with APSU Head Coach Matt Figger

On the defense
“We couldn’t guard them man-to-man. Our zone saved us in the second half. I knew we were going to have to play a lot of it with this few bodies. I’m really happy our guys persevered in the second half. We were good enough to get a lead and protect it.”

On the opponent
“It was a good win for our overall team morale to beat this team. They beat a Hartford team on the road that’s picked to either win their league or finish second. They took Georgetown down to the wire. They’re good, and we did a fantastic job on Kohl, a hard guy to play.”

On guys stepping up
“I thought Terry carried us in the first half. Zach made some big plays, as did Jarrett Givens. Steve Harris did some good things. We needed all those guys. And Ivan, this is basically his freshman year; he wasn’t able to play (much) last year because of injury and he’s making strides.”

Up Next for APSU Govs

It’ll be a short turnaround for Austin Peay to play Campbell in a 1:30pm (CT) contest at the Montego Bay Convention on the penultimate day of Austin Peay’s island adventure.


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