Evansville, IN – Trailing by a dozen points halfway through the second quarter, Austin Peay State University women’s basketball used a colossal 17-2 run to close the first half with the lead over Belmont; but the Governors were unable to hang on late in the second half and the Bruins pulled away for a 54-50 win, Wednesday, in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Championship at the Ford Center.
After one of the slower starts to a game this season, the Governors trailed Belmont 22-10 with 5:26 left to play in the first half.
After Belmont missed a three-pointer on the next possession, Ella Sawyer pulled down a defensive rebound and tossed a full-court pass to Shay-Lee Kirby, who won the battle for the ball and then hit a step-back triple to cut the deficit to just five points.
A D’Shara Booker jumper with 1:59 left in the half cut the Belmont advantage to just three points before Kidwell drew an offensive foul on the OVC Freshman of the Year Destinee Wells to get the ball back for Austin Peay. Brianah Ferby took advantage of the Bruins turnover and drilled a step-back three at the top of the key to tie the game for the first time since the opening tip.
On the next offensive possession, Kemia Ward grabbed an offensive rebound and went back up for a layup to give the APSU Govs their first lead of the contest. With 52 seconds left in the half, Kirby buried another three-pointer to stretch the advantage to five and cap off a 17-0 Austin Peay State University run. Belmont was finally able to end the run and get the final bucket of the half, but the APSU Governors lead, 27-24, after 20 minutes of action.
After Wells knocked down free throw for two of her game-high 23 points to start the second half, Brandi Ferby drilled a triple to stretch the Austin Peay advantage back to four. With 5:12 left in the third quarter, Wells knocked down another pair of free throws to tie the contest at 34, but a Sawyer three-pointer put the Govs back in front.
However, Belmont closed the third quarter on a 5-0 run and took a 39-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Belmont maintained their lead, but with 6:53 left on the clock, Wells converted the old-fashioned three-point play and then got another layup on the next possession to push the Bruin’s advantage to seven.
But the Governors got right back in the game with five-straight points from Brianah Ferby, who hit a jumper in the lane and drilled a three-pointer to cut the lead to 48-46.
After a pair of Kidwell free throws brought the Governors within two, 52-50, with 58 seconds left in the contest; APSU seemed to have Belmont’s Madison Bartley trapped on the sideline, but the Bruins were given a timeout and the Govs were forced to foul after the stop.
Belmont knocked down a pair of free throws in the final 20 seconds to hold on and end the Governors season in the first round of the OVC Tournament for the second-straight year.
Free throws. Belmont shot 23 free throws and made 15, Austin Peay State University shot just seven free throws and made five.
D’Shara Booker led the Governors with 9 points and 9 rebounds, it is the fifth time this season she has led the way in scoring and on the glass in a single game.
Austin Peay State University held Belmont to just one made a three-pointer, that is Belmont’s worst performance from behind the arc since November 19th, 2018 against Middle Tennessee.
Austin Peay State University held Belmont to just 54 points, which matches the Bruin’s lowest scoring output in a win this season.
Quotably, APSU Coach David Midlick
“We didn’t play perfect, but we played hard and gave effort. I thought we followed the game plan about as well as we could defensively against a really talented Belmont team that came into the tournament really rolling offensively. When you hold them to 54 points, you hope to find a way to score 55. I think if we would have shot 40 percent and had 15 turnovers instead of 19 we may have been able to pull it out, but I give a lot of credit to Belmont, they made it difficult on us as well.”
On the Govs defensive effort…
“I give so much credit to our players stepping up, especially Kasey Kidwell and the effort she gave today defensively. It was really a team effort, but Kasey is one that really stands out to me.”