Huntsville, AL – Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball junior Kelen Kenol came out aggressive in her season’s first start, propelling the Govs to a 67-61 victory on the road in a hostile environment, Saturday, against Alabama A&M. Kenol finished the day with a career-high 15 points, three rebounds, two steals, and a block.
The Governors come out red hot. A corner three by Kasey Kidwell and a couple forced turnovers got the Govs a quick 9-0 lead, and forced Alabama A&M to call a timeout just two minutes into the contest.
The Bulldogs could not answer after the timeout, as the Govs extend their lead to 13.
Fouls filled the first quarter as both teams combined for 12, which helped the Bulldogs cut the lead to 9 at the end of the first quarter. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native Arielle Gonzalez-Varner made her presence known early, with 6 points and six rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Austin Peay State University struggled in the first five minutes going 2-11 from the field. On the opposite end, Alabama A&M went 5-of-10 from the field and cut the lead to three before the media timeout.
As the first half drew to a close, both teams seemed gassed, while the intensity increased in T.M. Elmore Gymnasium. Key buckets from Gonzalez-Varner and Kenol, who both finished the first half with a team-high eight points, allowed the Governors to take a four point lead into the break.
Austin Peay simply forgot about their second quarter struggles, coming out 4-of-4 from the field and extending their lead to 10 within the first 2:15 of the second half. Over time, both teams became stagnant on offense, going three minutes without a bucket following the media timeout.
Fouls continued to pile up for both teams, with the Bulldogs getting to the free throw line six times in the last five minutes of the third quarter. The Governors still led by six, 53-47, after the end of the third quarter, despite only shooting 38.5 percent from the field.
The Govs defense was phenomenal to start the fourth quarter, forcing the Bulldogs to shoot 1-of-7 from the field before the final media timeout. On the other hand, the Govs offense couldn’t get it going either, shooting 2-of-6 from the field during the same stretch.
The ability to get to the basket and draw fouls was huge for the Governors this afternoon. But missed free throws down the stretch gave the Bulldogs an opportunity to keep it close, before the Governors closed out a 67-61 win on the road to improve to 6-2 on the season.
Boxing out and crashing the glass. Entering the game, Alabama A&M was ranked 5th in the nation in offensive rebounds, averaging 18 offensive boards a game.
The Governors limited the Bulldogs to only eleven offensive rebounds and ten second-chance points. Forcing turnovers and converting them into points was another critical asset to the win this afternoon.
Austin Peay forced 20 turnovers and capitalized on the turnovers for 16 points.
Quotably, APSU Coach David Midlick
On the Bulldogs breaking the press
“They were strong with the basketball. I still think we had some traps and could’ve either taken charges or came to the middle and got the steal. We were just a little bit tentative with it, but overall they did a good job against our pressure.”
Giving gratitude to the ladies due to their fight on this afternoon
“Outstanding job to our ladies. We didn’t always shoot it well. Didn’t do sometimes what I was asking them to do, but found a way again too against a really good team on the road that had two weeks to prepare for what we was doing and to counter some of the things we tried to do.”
On if the team rusty due to two weeks of not having a game
“I felt really good about it. We had a good practice in here last night. I thought we started the game well. We hit some shots. We moved the basketball and had a lot of energy. So really no rust with how we started the game.”
On Kelen Kenol’s game
“She earned the start today. She had a good two weeks of practice. Her effort and energy have been really good. It wasn’t anything with the matchup. She had earned the right to start this game.”
Kenol finished the game with 15 points, a career-high, shooting 5-8 from the field as well as 5-7 from the free-throw line.
Gonzalez-Varner has scored in double-figures four out of the last five games, and also recorded her third double-double of the season.
Kasey Kidwell tied her season-high in steals with three, to go along with eight points.
The Governors forced the Bulldogs to shoot 12 percent from three-point range (1-8). It was their best outing this season defending the three.
The Govs led wire-to-wire, never surrendering the lead or being tied at any point in the game.
Up Next for APSU Women’s Basketball
The APSU Women’s Basketball team will play in their first tournament since the 2016-17 season. They will travel to Miami, Florida, to compete in the Florida International Classic, with their first contest being a 7:00pm, December 19th, matchup against Binghamton.
Austin Peay State University and Binghamton have met once before, with the Governors coming out on top, 71-67, in 2012. On the second day of the tournament the Govs will play Florida International or Grambling, depending on the results of the first day.