Clarksville, TN – With a season-high 22 points, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball senior Arielle Gonzalez-Varner posted her season’s third 20-point performance, but for the first time this season, the senior from Cincinnati reached the 20-point mark in a losing effort, as the Governors fell to UT Martin, 69-61, in the Dunn Center.
The first three minutes of action would serve as an accurate representation of Saturday’s contest – a two-on-one duel between three Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selections.
For Austin Peay State University (9-4, 0-2 OVC), Gonzalez-Varner scored four points, UT Martin (6-7, 2-0) answered with eight points, six from their duo of Chelsey Perry and Maddie Waldrop.
Trailing by four after three minutes of action, a Shay-Lee Kirby three-pointer brought the Govs back within a single point – the closest they would get in the first quarter. The Skyhawks would extend their lead to as much as seven, but at the end of the first quarter, the Govs trailed, 18-13.
The second quarter started much better for the Govs. D’Shara Booker pulled down an offensive rebound and scored on the putback. Then Gonzalez-Varner jumped in front of a pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup. Finally, an Ella Sawyer three-pointer capped a 7-0 run that saw the Governors take their first lead of the day, 20-18, with 9:03 in the second quarter.
The rest of the second quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with the Govs accumulating their largest lead of the day, four, twice in the period. With 13 seconds left in the first half, UT Martin was back out in front with a two-point advantage, but a Tahanee Bennell put back at the buzzer tied the game at 32.
The Governors offense was unable to find its rhythm after the halftime break, scoring only 10 points in the third quarter. The APSU Govs turned the ball over six times in the third quarter, which led to 11 Skyhawk points. But despite a forgettable third quarter performance, the Governors only trailed by two possessions at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Govs immediately cut the Skyhawk lead to three, as Bennell drilled her first three-pointer of the day to kick off the fourth quarter. On the other end of the floor, Gonzalez-Varner drew an offensive foul, leading to a layup as she cut the Skyhawk lead to a single point. However, UT Martin responded with a 5-0 run to extend their lead back to six.
With 4:20 remaining in the game, Gonzalez-Varner converted a three-point play to once again put the Governors down just a single point. But the Govs never could quite close the gap completely, and that was the closest they would get the rest of the way, as Austin Peay State University dropped their second OVC contest of the season, Saturday.
Chelsey Perry and Maddie Waldrop. The Skyhawks duo of Preseason All-OVC selections each posted 20-point, 10-rebound double-doubles, combining for 50 points and 27 rebounds. The duo accounted for 72 percent of the UT Martin scoring output, and 65 percent of the rebounding effort.
Arielle Gonzalez-Varner posted a season-high 22 points, the most she has scored since she dropped 22 points at UT Martin (1/12/19).
Ella Sawyer matched her career high with three three-pointers for the second-straight game.
The APSU Govs dropped their first two OVC games of the season for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
The Governors dropped back-to-back games for the first time season.
Next Up For APSU Women’s Basketball
The APSU Women’s Basketball team will make the trip to the plateau for a 4:00pm, Thursday, tilt with Tennessee Tech. Thursday’s contest against the Golden Eagles will be nationally televised on ESPNU, and is the only OVC women’s game scheduled to appear on national TV in the regular season.