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APSU Women’s Basketball loses to Illinois, 76-62


APSU Women's BasketballChampaign, IL – For a team used to getting off to quick starts, that was not the case for the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball team, which fell behind early and despite a career-night from Maggie Knowles and a double-double from Arielle Gonzalez-Varner, were unable to close the gap and fell to Illinois, 76-62.

Austin Peay State University Women's Basketball senior Arielle Gonzalez-Varner scored 15 points and pulled down 12 boards against Illinois, Wednesday night. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)

Austin Peay State University Women’s Basketball senior Arielle Gonzalez-Varner scored 15 points and pulled down 12 boards against Illinois, Wednesday night. (Robert Smith, APSU Sports Information)

The Governors started off the game with the coldest shooting stretch they have experienced all season, going 1-for-14 in the first quarter.

The APSU Governors trailed by 18 points after the first ten minutes, but would outscore the Fighting Illini by four points the rest of the way.

The Govs heated up in the second quarter, when Gonzalez-Varner pulled down two offensive rebounds, scoring four second-chance points to jump start the offense. The Governors controlled the paint in the second quarter, outscoring the Fighting Illini by ten in the paint in the quarter.

The defense also kicked it into gear in the second quarter, with seven steals and three forced turnovers; the Govs scored nine points off turnovers in the second quarter. The Governors went on a 13-0 run, sparked by a Tahanee Bennell three-pointer, to close out the second quarter and cut the 18-point first quarter deficit to five.

The third quarter saw the Governors cut the lead to under five points for the first time since the Fighting Illini led 4-0.  Another Bennell three-pointer, and an offensive-rebound from Gonzalez-Varner that led to a layup by Knowles cut the Illinois lead to three-points.

Then Knowles began to heat-up from behind the arc. The sophomore from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, knocked down three triples en route to 13 third-quarter points. But the Govs were unable to close the gap any in the third quarter, and still trailed by five heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Governors five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter was as close as they would ever get, despite outscoring Illinois 52-39 in the second and third quarters. The APSU Govs only scored eight points in the fourth quarter, and fell 76-62, to Illinois in the State Farm Center.

Knowles knocked down four three-pointers and shot 64% from the floor to lead the Governors with 18 points. Gonzalez-Varner posted her season’s first double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds. Bennell rounded out the Governors in double-figures, knocking down three three-pointers on her way to 12 points.

The Difference

The Fighting Illini outscored the Governors 27-4 on fast breaks. Every time the Governors got a big bucket or got close to the Illinois lead, the hosts would kill the Govs momentum with a fast break bucket. In the third quarter alone, the Fighting Illini outscored the Govs 15-0 on fast breaks, and slowed every Austin Peay State University rally with a run out for a bucket.



Maggie Knowles matched her career-high in made three-pointers, knocking down four, en route to a career-high 18 points.

The Governors outscored Illinois 17-8 on second chance points, thanks in part to a plus nine offensive rebounding margin.

Up Next For APSU Women’s Basketball

The APSU Women’s Basketball team stays on the road for one more game, making the trip to Itta Bena, Mississippi for a 6:00pm, Monday tip off against Mississippi Valley State. 




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