Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team outshot one of the nation’s top three-point shooting squads from behind the arc, but the Governors were unable to hold off Liberty and dropped an ASUN Conference contest, 82-70, on Military Appreciation Day, Thursday, in the Winfield Dunn Center.
Austin Peay (8-16, 2-9 ASUN) hit 11 three-pointers – its fifth game with double-digit threes this season – and shot 50 percent from three-point range. Liberty (19-5, 10-1 ASUN), a team that entered the contest ranked fourth in the NCAA with 11.3 made three-pointers per game, made just six threes – its second-lowest single-game total of the season – and shot 37.5 percent from behind the arc.
Cameron Copeland drilled a pair of three-pointers to lead Austin Peay State University with a season-high 19 points. Drew Calderon hit a trio of three-pointers and added 16 more points while Carlos Paez connected twice from three-point range and rounded out the Govs in double-figures with 12 points.
Liberty was led in scoring by Darius McGhee with 18 points. Shiloh Robinson added 16 more points for Liberty while Kyle Rode and Blake Preston each scored 12 points. Joseph Venzant also recorded 10 points to round out the Flames that scored in double-figures.
Austin Peay State University fell behind early and Liberty was able to build a five-point lead, 10-5, at the first media timeout with 16:17 left in the first period. Coming out of the timeout, Copeland buried a transition three in the corner to bring the Governors back within two points, but McGhee answered by going on an 8-0 run by himself to give the Flames their first double-digit lead, 18-8, with 13:36 left in the opening half.
With 1:38 left before the break Liberty built its biggest lead of the first half when Rode hit a free throw to go ahead 37-21. But Paez closed the first period with a flourish, hitting a pair of free throws before recording the second blocked shot of his career to send the Govs into the locker room down 14 points, 37-23.
Coming out of the intermission, the Governors and Flames traded baskets until the 16:56 mark when Guy Fauntleroy nailed a three-pointer to bring the score to 44-33. But Liberty answered with an 11-2 run that lasted 4:54 and built its biggest lead of the game, 55-35.
Trailing by 20 points with 12:02 left to play, the Governors chipped away at the deficit and trailed by 13 points, 72-59, when Calderon converted the old-fashioned three-point play with 4:15 remaining on the clock. APSU was able to trim the deficit to just 11 points when Paez hit a three-pointer with 25 seconds left to play, but that was the closest the Governors would get before time ran out and they fell to ASUN-leading Liberty.
Points in the paint. Liberty scored 42 points in the paint compared to just 10 for Austin Peay. The Flames were plus-32 in the paint in what ended up being just a 12-point game.
Austin Peay State University matched its season-low with just six turnovers. The Govs also committed just six turnovers at North Florida on January 28th.
APSU hit double-digit threes for the fifth time this season and fell to 3-2 when it makes 10-plus three-pointers this season.
Liberty entered the contest averaging 11.3 made three-pointers per game – which ranked fourth in the NCAA and led the ASUN – and was held to just six threes, its second-lowest single-game mark this season.
The Governors hit seven triples in just the second half and outscored Liberty, 47-45, in the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Austin Peay State University shot 50 percent (11-22) from three-point distance, which is its second-best single-game mark this season.
The APSU Govs bench outscored the Liberty reserves, 32-28.
Liberty entered the contest holding teams to just 57.9 points per game, which ranked fifth in the NCAA, and 53.6 points per game in ASUN play, which led the conference. The Governors were able to score 70 points and were the first time to hit the 70-point mark against the Flames since they fell to Oral Roberts, 84-70, on December 12th.
Austin Peay State University is the first ASUN team to score more than 62 points against Liberty and is just the fourth team to reach 70 points against the Flames this season.
Cameron Copeland led the APSU Govs in scoring for the third time this season and the eighth time in his career with a season-high 19 points.
Copeland has scored in double-figures 13 times this season and 26 times in his Austin Peay State University Career.
Drew Calderon scored in double-figures for the second time this season and the fifth time in his career with 16 points.
Carlos Paez scored 12 points, his seventh game in double-figures this season and the 36th of his career.
Paez also led the APSU Govs with three assists, it was the 15th time this season and the 35th time in his career he has led the team in assists.
Sean Durugordon grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Governors on the glass for the team-best 12th time this season.
Rodrique Massenat made his first career start at Austin Peay State University and recorded seven points, an assist, and a steal while going 2-for-2 from three-point range.
Quotably, Coach Nate James
Opening thoughts… “The layups and the missed free throws. If we hit the free throws, and we gave up some layups with some miscommunication, when you are facing a really tough team like Liberty, there are very few weak spots. So one of their strengths, obviously, is their three-point shooting, and what happens is you get so fixated on the three and now we are giving up layups and having poor rotations because we are hugging our man. So we eliminate a couple of layups, make our layups, and knock down our free throws and it’s a totally different ballgame coming out of the first half.”
On the second-half performance… “Second half, I challenged our guys to fight, play with some pride, and play together, and then you can live with the outcome. But you can’t live with not fighting or not playing your butts off and that group in the second half, I thought they fought hard.”
On facing Liberty… “We were more prepared in the second half because it’s one thing to try and simulate what they do, obviously you can’t because all five players at times have the ability to knock down three or make a play. Some of the things that we went over, in terms of scouting, we were able to take some things away and take away their looks, but the bottom line is, when you face a team that has the cohesiveness and the connection and the chemistry, they know how to read each other. They have been playing with each other for a while, they are an older veteran group, they know the ins and outs of the offense, they know each other, and so they are connected, and we are trying to get there. We have taken some lumps, we have a young team, and it’s been a very disjointed year, but our guys showed the type of fight that I think we can build off of and our young guys are continuing to get better. We have got to just keep fighting and keep staying together, because it doesn’t get any easier, obviously, but when you face a tough Liberty team you are looking for positives and I think that second half, there was a lot to work with.
Next Up For APSU Men’s Basketball
The Austin Peay State University men’s basketball team makes the quick turnaround when it hosts Queens on Saturday in a 3:00pm contest on APSU College of STEM Day in the Winfield Dunn Center. The Governors then hit the road for a pair of ASUN Conference games at North Alabama, on February 9th, and Central Arkansas, on February 11th.
For news and updates on everything APSU men’s basketball, follow along on Twitter and Instagram (@GovsMBB) or check back at LetsGoPeay.com.