Calloway County, KY – Trailing by as many as 20 points in the first quarter, Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team launched a monumental comeback to defeat rival Murray State 71-67, Tuesday, at the CFSB Center.
Thirty-two fourth-quarter points and a season-high 46 points in the paint helped lead Austin Peay (4-5) to its sixth win against Murray State (5-2) since 2020.
Despite the Governors’ paint prowess eventually leading to the win, it was the Racers who controlled the front court in the first quarter, scoring 10 of their 22 first-quarter points in the painted area, holding Austin Peay State University to four points on 2-for-13 from the field and scoring nine points off six APSU turnovers.
After trading scores to open the game, the Racers used a six-minute, 19-0 run to take a 22-2 lead eight minutes into the first quarter before Ashlei Kirven ended the APSU’s scoring drought on a layup with under a minute remaining.
Mariah Adams opened the second quarter with a pair of free throws, which sparked a 10-2 APSU run heading into the period’s media break.
Murray State’s Katelyn Young scored her – and the Racers’ – second basket of the quarter following the media timeout to extend the MSU’s lead to 26-14 with 3:57 remaining, but baskets by Adams and Jada Roberson brought the Govs within double digits for the first time since midway through the first quarter.
After trading empty possessions for nearly 90 seconds following an MSU free-throw with 1:21 remaining in the half, Adams found Tiya Douglas on a cross-court pass, who beat the buzzer for her first of two three-pointers of the night.
Austin Peay State University answered the Racers’ 22-4 first quarter by outscoring them 17-5 in the second and holding them to 2-of-14 from the field and 0-of-8 from three-point range to trim its deficit to 27-21.
Outside of Young’s game-high 13 points and five baskets on eight attempts at the break, the Govs held the rest of the Racers to 26.3 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from deep.
The APSU Govs opened the second half on a 7-0 run following an Anala Nelson old-fashioned three-point play less than 30 seconds in. A layup by Shamarre Hale followed by a pair of made free throws by Kirven gave APSU its first lead of the game at 28-27 with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Murray State made Austin Peay State University’s first advantage of the night brief, as it retook the lead on the following possession and went on an 11-0 run to stretch their lead back to double figures for the second time of the night.
The APSU Govs trimmed their deficit to five with just over two minutes remaining but were unable to cut into the lead anymore and trailed 46-39 heading into the final 10 minutes.
The best way to describe the fourth quarter was, simply put, dominant.
Austin Peay State University scored 18 points in the paint in the final frame, turned six Murray State turnovers into 10 points, and most importantly, shot 11-of-12 from the field and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Adams made all five of her shots from the field in the quarter, with her fist coming in the opening seconds. Murray State regained their seven-point advantage on their next possession, but a 14-7 APSU run tied the game at 53, with the next point – Roberson’s sixth-straight point for the Govs – gave APSU a 54-53 lead with 4:42 remaining.
Baskets by Hale and Adams gave APSU its largest lead of the game at 62-55 with 2:22 remaining, but APSU saw its multi-score lead trimmed to three two minutes later, after Murray State’s Macey Turley made her fourth three-pointer, cutting MSU’s deficit to 69-66.
Despite the late comeback attempt, a pair of Yamia Johnson free throws sealed the win for APSU.
The fourth quarter. Austin Peay State University made an astounding 91.7 percent of its shots from the field in the fourth quarter, including nine of its 11 attempts from the charity stripe.
Despite trailing by seven multiple times in the frame, the Governors scored 20 points over the final 4:05 to lead to their sixth win against the Racers in their last seven meetings.
Inside the Box Score
Austin Peay State University won its 50th all-time game against the Racers, improving to 50-46 against their rival.
The APSU Govs now have won 20 straight games when scoring 70-plus points.
Austin Peay State University’s 50 second-half points were tied for its most in a half since scoring 68 in the first half against Kentuck Wesleyan on November 5th, 2019.
The 46 points in the paint were tied for APSU’s most since a 60-PIP performance against Pikeville on November 12th, 2021. APSU has won 19 of their last 21 games when outscoring opponents in the paint.
APSU outshot MSU 51.9 percent to 42.0 percent. The Govs are 22-6 under head coach Brittany Young when they shoot better from the field than their opponent.
APSU’s 30 bench points are its second-most this season. The Govs entered Tuesday’s game averaging 24.9 points from their rotation.
Mariah Adams’ six assists were the most by a Gov since Ella Sawyer dished out eight assists against UNC Asheville on December 16th, 2021.
Adams led APSU in scoring for the third time this season with 16 points.
Shamarre Hale led APSU in rebounds with six boards.
With head women’s basketball coach Brittany Young
Opening thoughts… “We got off to a very ugly start tonight, but then we started fighting. Every timeout, we talked about just going out and chipping into their lead. Right before halftime, our goal was to cut it to 10 and we did that. Our next goal was to either have the lead or at least tie the game by the third quarter’s media timeout and we did that. At the final timeout, I just told the team, ‘it’s time to finish the job.’ I do not like the start that we had today, but I am proud of this team and love the fight and finish.”
On the halftime speech… “I just told them to stick to the game plan. Our coaches and staff do a great job of coming up with these game plans, and if we can just stick to it, good things follow and that’s what we talked about at the half. We also talked about how Murray may have thought that we were going to lie down or that we had died and that they have to keep fighting. As long as there was time on that clock, we would keep fighting and chipping away at any lead they had by doing all of the small things we needed to and following the game plan.”
On 32 fourth-quarter points… “We have the capability to do that. I have said this well before the season started, that we have about seven players who are capable of scoring in double-figures any night. But when you bring a team together in the way that we did this offseason, it is a process. Even as a head coach who wants instant success, sometimes I have to remind myself that it does not always work that way. Sometimes it takes growing pains or even ugly wins, but every day we are going to keep putting in the work.”
On Mariah Adams… “We need her voice. When you bring in as many people as we did this offseason, sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly who the leader is, but the team told me how much of a leader she was over the summer… She is a fifth-year senior who has paid her dues throughout the years. She has the right to speak and this team trusts and listens to hear a lot. I heard her in that last timeout, she kept telling the team to stay calm and execute. Her voice is needed, and hopefully, as we continue with this long season, she continues to lead like she does.
Next Up For APSU Women’s Basketball
The nonconference finale awaits the Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team in its December 21st, 2:00pm game against UNC Asheville. The game also is Youth Sports Day. Interested sports teams wanting to attend next Wednesday’s game against the Bulldogs can email Erin White at email@example.com.