Clarksville, TN – With 1.4 seconds left to play the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball had the ball and a chance to knock off Belmont, but the Governors were unable to get a shot off, falling just short, 53-52, Saturday in the Dunn Center.
It was a back-and-forth affair early, with five lead changes in the first quarter.
The Governors jumped out in front first, after an Ella Sawyer three-pointer gave them a two-point advantage.
Then a 4-0 Belmont run gave the Bruins the lead for just a moment, before Sawyer drilled her second triple of the quarter to put the Governors back up by one.
The rest of the first quarter followed suit, with neither team able to find any separation. Belmont was able build the biggest lead of the quarter with 1:22 left to play, when an Allison Luly layup but the Bruins up by five. But an Arielle Gonzalez-Varner layup and a Brandi Ferby jumper with 2 seconds left on the clock closed out the first quarter with a 4-0 Govs run to trim the Belmont lead back to just one.
The second quarter saw the Bruins turn to the Preseason OVC Player of the Year, Ellie Harmeyer. Harmeyer scored 10 points in the frame, going 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, and hauling in six rebounds. With 6:37 remaining, a Harmeyer layup gave the Bruins an eight-point advantage and their biggest lead of the first half. But, the Govs cut into the deficit late in the quarter, with a Gonzalez-Varner bucket with 28 seconds remaining cutting the Belmont lead to just four at the break.
With 5:57 left in the third quarter, Sawyer nailed her third and final three-pointer of the day to give the Govs their first lead since the 4:23 mark in the first quarter. But reminiscent of the first two frames, Belmont built a lead in the middle part of the quarter, going on a 13-1 run to establish a ten-point lead with 2:17 remaining. Like the first two quarters, Austin Peay State University refused to let Belmont take a big lead into the end of the quarter, cutting the 10-point deficit in half over the final two minutes of the frame.
As the fourth quarter began, Maggie Knowles heated up from three-point range. The sophomore from Murfreesboro Tennessee buried two of her game-high four three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Governors a one-point advantage. With the APSU Govs leading, 50-49, the two teams would embark on a 5:34 long scoring-drought, that would last until Harmeyer knocked down a pair of free-throws to give the Bruins a one-point lead.
Trailing by one with 2:55 left in the game, Austin Peay State University and Belmont would swap a trio of empty possessions that left the Govs with the ball and 17 seconds on the clock. That’s when Brianah Ferby scored her only two points of the day, a mid-range jumper off of an assist from her twin-sister Brandi, that gave the Govs a one-point lead.
Once again the Bruins turned to Harmeyer, who drove down the right side of the lane and hit a go-ahead layup with 1.4 seconds remaining. After an Austin Peay timeout, the Governors had the ball at half court, but were unable to get a shot off on the inbounds play, falling in heartbreaking fashion to Belmont.
Sawyer led the Governors on the offense end, as the freshman from Adelaide, Australia, posted a team-high 15 points. Knowles and Brandi Ferby joined the freshman Aussie in double-figures, with Knowles doing her scoring exclusively from three-point range and Ferby leading scoring six of her 13 points at the charity stripe.
Ellie Harmeyer. The senior from Kenosha, Wisconsin, led Belmont with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Harmeyer did damage from the free-throw line, where she went 10-of-10 to outscore Austin Peay State University as a team. She also hit a contested layup with 1.4 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in the contest.
Austin Peay State University now trails in the all-time series, 6-12, with Belmont winning the last five matchups.
Ella Sawyer led the Governors in scoring for the third time in her freshman campaign; it was also the sixth time she has scored in double-figures.
Maggie Knowles hit four three-pointers; she has now made multiple triples in five-straight games, and has made at least one in every game she has played.
Brandi Ferby scored a season-high 13 points, it was the second time this season and 12th time in her career she has posted double-digit points.
Shay-Lee Kirby grabbed a career-high five rebounds.
Austin Peay State University forced Belmont to turn the ball over 20 times, marking the 11th game this season where the Govs have forced 20 or more turnovers.
Only turning the ball over 13 times, the APSU Govs matched their second lowest turnover total of the season.
Quotably, APSU Coach David Midlick
On the Govs final play
“We wanted to get it into Ari [Gonzalez-Varner] at the elbow and her take a dribble and rip, to try and draw and get to the basket.”
On scoreless stretch in the fourth quarter
“We played extremely hard [on defense]. We had great effort, we knew what they were going to do personnel wise, and it was just effort. We did a good job boxing out too; we just had the same struggle. We were one-for-nine with six turnovers during that time, so if one or two of those fall it is a different outcome. The common theme has been our shooting percentage in games we lost.”
“I’m proud of our team, but we want to win and that’s why we played that hard. We feel like we deserved to win, and we didn’t get it done tonight.”
Next Up For Austin Peay State University
The Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team will continue their four-game Ohio Valley Conference home stand with a 5:30pm, Thursday, contest against SIU Edwardsville. Then on Saturday, the Govs will welcome Eastern Illinois to the Dunn Center for a 1:30pm matchup, before heading back on the road the following weekend.