Evansville, IN – Playing in its final Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Championship, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball team fell to No. 1 Belmont, 63-51, in the semifinals, Friday, at the Ford Center.
Belmont (21-7, 16-2 OVC) advances to the OVC Championship and was led in scoring by Madison Bartley and Destinee Wells, who scored 20 points each.
Nina De Leon Negron and Kirby got the scoring started for the Governors, with both hitting a three-pointer in the first three minutes of the game, but the Bruins tied the score, 6-6, with a Bartley layup at the 6:53 mark.
The Bruins then used a 14-5 run to take a 20-11 lead over the Governors with 58 seconds left in the opening period. But Yamia Johnson and Pace got back-to-back baskets to close the opening period and the Govs trailed, 20-15, at the end of the first quarter.
Booker opened the second quarter with a layup 38 seconds into the frame, bringing Austin Peay back within three points, 20-17. With 5:47 left before halftime, Kirby tied the score, 24-24, when she buried her second three-pointer of the contest.
But the APSU Govs were never able to take the lead and were only able to tie the score twice more in the first half. With the score tied at 29-29 with 1:21 left in the half, Belmont closed with four-straight points and led, 33-29, at the break.
Austin Peay State University was plagued by an untimely cold stretch in the third period and saw Belmont go on a 12-1 run that lasted until the 1:54 mark. With the Bruins leading, 45-30, Ella Sawyer buried a three-pointer to halt the Belmont run and bring the APSU Govs back within a dozen points, 45-33. Each time was able to get another bucket in the third and Austin Peay State University trailed, 48-35, at the end of three.
The Governors were able to fight their way back into the game, outscoring Belmont, 14-7, in the first 7:39 of the fourth quarter to bring the deficit back within five points, 54-49. But five points was as close as Austin Peay State University would get and the Bruins closed on a 9-2 run to pick up a 12-point win in the semifinals.
The third quarter. Austin Peay State University was able to erase a ten-point lead in the first half. Belmont rebuilt its double-digit lead in the third quarter when it outscored the Govs, 15-6. The Governors ran out of steam and were unable to erase a second double-digit deficit.
Shay-Lee Kirby scored 11 points to lead the Governors in scoring for the fifth time this season and the 10th time in her career.
D’Shara Booker grabbed five rebounds to lead the APSU Govs on the glass for the eighth time this season and the 26th time in her career.
Karle Pace scored in double-figures for the 23rd time this season with 10 points.
Pace also dished out a team-high four assists and led the Governors in assists for the 10th time this season.
Next Up For APSU Women’s Basketball
The Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team’s final trip to the OVC Tournament comes to an end. The Governors now turn their attention towards their first season of competition in the ASUN Conference.
Austin Peay 51, Belmont 63
Austin Peay Stats
DE LEON NEGRON