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Govs maintain hold of third place in OVC

APSU Athletics Communications

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

Charleston, Illinois—For the first time since 2010-11, Austin Peay picked up its 10th victory in Ohio Valley Conference play, knocking off Eastern Illinois in a 76-69 slugfest at Lantz Arena.

With the win, the Govs (15-11, 10-4 OVC) maintain their spot in the third place in the league. The Panthers fall to 9-16, 5-9 in league play.

A host of Govs contributed to the 41-30 lead Austin Peay took into the break. Although senior Averyl Ugba led the way with 10 first-half points, he was buoyed by the efforts of Dayton Gumm and Steve Harris—each of whom scored eight first-half points on a combined 7-of-9 shooting—and freshman Terry Taylor, who tipped in a Gumm miss with time running out to give the Govs momentum into the break.

The Panthers fought back in the second half, pushing the Govs to the wire. After pushing the lead back to 10 points with 8:20 to go after a three-pointer from Chris Porter-Bunton, a quick 12-4 Panther run, punctuated by a Mack Smith three-pointer, his sixth of the evening, brought Eastern Illinois back to within a bucket at the 3:37 mark.

Porter-Bunton gave the Govs breathing room again down the stretch, answering Smith’s three pointer with a layup on the next possession, then a three-pointer with 2:08 to go. It was Austin Peay’s final make from the floor, as Eastern Illinois was forced to foul the rest of the way; the Govs went 6-of-8 at the charity stripe to close the game out.

The Difference

Ball control. Austin Peay committed a season-low eight turnovers in the contest, posting an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 2-to-1 for the second time in three games. The Panthers mustered just nine points off turnover, the fifth time this season an Austin Peay opponent scored less than 10 points off Governor miscues. And the Govs picked up 17 assists on the day, led by senior Tre’ Ivory with seven, one off his career high (Oakland City, Nov. 15, 2017); they’re averaging 16.6 assists as a team over the last five contests.

Notably

  • Austin Peay has now won four straight against Eastern Illinois, and have swept the season series each of the last two years.
  • Taylor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass; he now has 105 offensive rebounds this season, equaling Qunnipiac’s Abdulai Bundu (2015-16) for 24th-most by a freshman nationally since 2009-10.
  • With four straight wins at Lantz Arena, the Governors equaled the longest road winning streak for either team in the series.
  • The Govs outscored the Panthers 9-0 on fast break points, just the third time this season Austin Peay has not allowed a single transition point (Alabama A&M, Dec. 2; at Jacksonville State, Jan. 13).
  • Harris scored 10 points, breaking into double figures for the first time since the Eastern Kentucky contest, Jan. 25.
  • The Panthers sank eight three-pointers against the Govs, led by Smith with six; opponents are averaging nine made threes per game over the last nine games.
  • Gumm finished with 15 points, leading the team in scoring for the first time since the Nov. 29 contest at Oklahoma State. He became the first Gov aside from Zach Glotta to hit four three-pointers in a game this season.
  • The Govs start February with a 3-1 mark for the first time since 2008.
  • The Govs moved to 13-3 on the season when scoring 70 or more points, and have won five straight when scoring 70 or more.
  • Coaching Quotables with Head Coach Matt Figger

    On the first half

    “I thought we played really well in the first half. They made some Hail Mary shots there at the end (of the half). We just couldn’t pull away from them; as well as we played, we couldn’t pull away and that was my biggest concern going into halftime.”

    On second-half defense

    “My guys don’t have my personality. My personality is, if we’ve got a team down, we need to stomp them. We need to fight as much as we can to keep them from scoring. Don’t let guys drive. Bigs have to rotate and help. I’m not happy with how we defended.”

    On the rest of the schedule

    “Bottom line, we control our own destiny. But we’ve got three really good opponents coming up at the Dunn, and we’ve played really well at the Dunn, and we’ve got the one road game. We’ve got the potential to be a postseason team if we can continue to put together consistency.”

    Up Next for the Govs

    Austin Peay will wrap up the 2017-18 regular season with three of its last four at home, beginning with a 7:30 p.m., Thursday, tipoff against Tennessee Tech at the Dunn Center.

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