Clarksville, TN – Trailing by ten points with 2:02 remaining, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball team pulled off an electrifying comeback to tie the game at 68 and send it to overtime, where the Governors surged to a 77-72 win over Illinois State, Sunday, in the Dunn Center.
The Governors got things going early, with Kasey Kidwell knocking down a three-pointer on the first possession for the second-straight game.
A few possessions later, Brandi Ferby knocked down a three-pointer to give the Govs a six-point edge, but the Redbirds immediately scored five unanswered to bring it back to one.
Then the Austin Peay State University Govs took off again, stretching the lead back to six on another three-pointer, this one from Shay-Lee Kirby.
With the Govs commanding their second six-point lead early in the game, it was Illinois State’s turn to go on a run. The Redbirds scored the next seven points to retake the lead heading into the second quarter, setting the tone for the back-and-forth battle that was to come.
The Governors were locked in to start the second quarter, immediately going on an 11-2 run to stake themselves to an 8-point advantage – their biggest of the first half. But the Redbirds would not go away, and a pair of Mary Crompton three-pointers on back-to-back possessions erased the Govs advantage altogether, as Illinois State went on a 13-0 run to claim a 5-point lead – their biggest lead of the first half.
The Govs cut the Illinois State lead to four, before scoring the final five points of the half on a Maggie Knowles three-pointer and an Arielle Gonzalez-Varner fast-break layup, to take a one-point lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was the closest of the day, with neither team able to extend their lead past four. After 30 minutes of action, Illinois State held a one-point advantage heading into the final quarter.
Things seemed to be headed south in a hurry for the Govs at the start of the fourth quarter, as Illinois State ripped off an 11-2 run to take an 11-point lead – the largest of the game. A Redbird layup with 2:02 remaining put the Austin Peay State University Governors down ten points, but that was the last time Illinois State would score in regulation.
An Ella Sawyer jumper, followed by a Nieja Crawford steal and fast break bucket cut the lead to six with 1:11 remaining. Coming out of an Austin Peay State University timeout, a Kidwell steal led to a Crawford three-pointer to reduce the deficit to three with just under a minute remaining.
Following her triple, Crawford made maybe the biggest defensive play of the day, drawing an offensive foul on the other end get the ball back with 32 seconds left on the clock.
Enter Maggie Knowles. The sophomore from Murfreesboro Tennessee checked in immediately following the Redbird’s offensive foul, and proceeded to knock down a game-tying three-pointer, assisted by – who else? – Crawford.
The Knowles three-point dagger sent the game to overtime, where the Govs once again trailed early. A Knowles jumper in the lane erased the Redbird’s early two-point advantage. From there, the APSU Govs would do the rest of the scoring, knocking down five free throws to claim a 77-72 overtime win over Illinois State.
Nieja Crawford leading the comeback… again. The senior from Atlanta, Georgia, scored in double-figures for the second consecutive game, but it was her effort at the end of the game that sparked another Austin Peay State University comeback victory.
In the final five minutes of regulation, Crawford scored seven points, grabbed two rebounds, recorded a steal, drew an offensive foul, and assisted on the game-tying three-pointer from Knowles. In overtime, Crawford drained two free throws with the game tied and less than a minute on the clock, giving the APSU Govs a lead from which they would never look back.
The Governors picked up their ninth win of the season, marking the first time in program history an Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team has won nine games before the end of December.
By starting the season 9-2, the Govs are off to the second best 11-game start in program history. The 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams each started their season 10-1.
The APSU Govs completed their second straight comeback victory, having trailed by double-digits in the fourth quarter in each of the last two games.
This was the Governors first overtime game since February 24th, 2018, when they beat Murray State, 75-69.
The Govs improved to 4-0 in games played at the Dunn Center.
Illinois State turned the ball over 21 times; it was the ninth time this season the Govs have forced an opponent to commit 20 or more turnovers.
Arielle Gonzalez-Varner recorded her fourth double-double of the season, and 11th of her career. It was the first time she had recorded a double-double at home this season.
Gonzalez-Varner’s 20-point performance marked the second time this season, and fifth time of her career, that she has scored 20 or more points.
Nieja Crawford has scored in double-figures in back-to-back games for the first time this season. The last time Crawford scored in double-figures in consecutive games was a three-game stretch from January 24th, 2019 to January 31st, 2019.
Next Up For APSU Women’s Basketball
The APSU Women’s Basketball team will kick off Ohio Valley Conference play at 5:30pm, Thursday, when they welcome Southeast Missouri to Clarksville. Later in the weekend, the Governors are set for a 1:30pm, Saturday, tilt with UT Martin in the Dunn Center.