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Clarksville, TN – Playing in front of the Dunn Center crowd for the last time before Christmas, Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball found itself locked in a tight battle with Evansville, before Maggie Knowles exploded for 20 second-half points, connecting from three-point range six times to lead the Governors to an 80-64 win over the Purple Aces.
Basketball is a game of runs and that was evidently true in the first quarter of tonight’s contest. The Governors jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game.
Just when fans thought the Govs might put this one away early, the Purple Aces covered the run with eight straight points of their own.
With the Govs leading by one a few possessions later, Knowles knocked down her first three-pointer of the night. That sparked another 8-0 run that the Govs would ride until the end of the first quarter, where they led 19-11.
Despite being one of the top offensive teams in the country, the Governors relied on their defense to lead to offense in the first half, scoring 20 of their 30 first half points off of Evansville turnovers. The Govs recorded 11 steals and forced 17 Evansville turnovers in the first half, but still only led by a single point at the break.
Refusing to go away in the second half, Evansville came out and claimed their only lead of the game in the first minute of the third quarter. The Governors would reclaim the lead on an Arielle Gonzalez-Varner layup on the next possession, and the Purple Aces would not lead again the rest of the contest. Gonzalez-Varner went on to score 11 points, the senior forwards third consecutive game in double-figures.
After the Governors retook the lead in the third quarter, Knowles began to heat up from behind the arc. The sophomore knocked down three triples in the third quarter to help the Govs stretch their lead back to five heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, a Maggie Knowles shooting exhibition broke out at the Dunn Center. The Murfreesboro native went 4-of-4 from the floor, and shot 3-of-3 from downtown en route to 11 fourth quarter points. Knowles would finish the night with a career-high 25 points and seven three-pointers, while shooting 69% from the floor and 78% from three-point range.
Knowles was not the only Governor to heat up in the second half; Shay-Lee Kirby scored 11 of her 17 points in the final 20 minutes. As the fourth quarter rolled on, the Governors began to extend their lead, thanks in large part to the passing of Tahanee Bennell. The junior from Turners Beach, Australia, dished out seven of her career-high nine assists in the second half, as the Governors closed the door on Evansville to improve to 4-1 on the season.
Points off turnovers. The Governors recorded 18 steals and forced 33 Evansville turnovers en route to outscoring the Purple Aces 43-17 off turnovers. The 33 forced turnovers is the best mark by the Governor defense this season.
Knowles had matched her previous-career high of four made three-pointers in a game in each of the last two contests, before finally getting over the hump and knocking down seven triples against the Purple Aces.
Gonzalez-Varner scored in double-figures for the third straight game, but only recorded seven rebounds, and did not extend her streak of double-doubles to three.
The OVC’s leading offensive rebounder, Gonzalez-Varner pulled down all seven of her rebounds tonight on the offensive end.
The Govs outscored Evansville off the bench, 29-11.
The Governors pulled down 15 more offensive rebounds than the Purple Aces, which led to them outscoring Evansville 23-4 on second chance points.
Next Up For APSU Women’s Basketball
It is a quick turnaround for the APSU Governors, who will travel to Chattanooga for a 2:00pm, Sunday, contest against the Mocs. Austin Peay State University and Chattanooga have previously met on the hardwood 38 times, but the two teams have not matched up since the 2014 season.
TopicsAPSU, APSU Athletics, APSU Basketball, APSU Sports, APSU Women's Basketball, Arielle Gonzalez-Varner, Austin Peay State University, Chattanooga TN, Clarksville, Clarksville TN, Evansville, Lady Govs, Maggie Knowles, Mocs, Murfreesboro TN, Ohio Valley Conference, OVC, Purple Aces, Shay-Lee Kirby, Tahanee Bennell
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