TN Sports 360

Colonels’ 3-point shooting knocks off Govs

APSU Athletics Communications

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

CLARKSVILLE — This is going to be a wild year in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Austin Peay suffered an 80-75 loss to Eastern Kentucky, Saturday afternoon, on a night when the Colonels — who entered play hitting less than 30 percent from beyond the arc — made 11 three-pointers en route to a victory in the Dunn Center.

‘Twas a mildly inauspicious beginning for the Govs. Austin Peay missed its first six shots from the floor and, while avoiding many of the turnover troubles that Eastern Kentucky often forces opponents into, were clearly disjointed by the full-court attack posed by the Colonels. 

Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky was turning any miscues into points and were boosted by Wendell Green Jr., who hit a quartet of long three-pointers in the first eight minutes and change despite entering the contest with six threes total in his first 10 games at a less-than-robust 15.4 percent shooting from deep. And Austin Peay struggled to buy a bucket for much of the first half, missing 27 of its first 37 shots from the floor.

Now with that as background, if proffered to guess at the halftime deficit, the reader might assume something in the mid-to-high teens. However, despite its share of struggles, the Govs had the gap closed to 10 at 42-32 heading into the break, with several factors playing a part in keeping Austin Peay close. Sophomore Alec Woodard was particularly adroit on both ends of the court, leading the Govs with 10 points and coming up with a pair of steals. The Govs forced 10 first-half turnovers as well, proving to be the Colonels equal in defensive harassment, and willed themselves to the line twice as often as the visitors were able to accomplish.

Hey, did you see whose name didn’t come up much for the first half? Terry Taylor, who has entered that next phase of star basketball playerdom where he can defer to his teammates and get them involved, then take over when he needs to. Like early in the second half, when he accounted for half of Austin Peay’s points in a 10-2 run to cut it to a one-possession game.

Austin Peay had spent all night waiting for a spark, and now that the Govs had it, the pressure was suddenly on Eastern Kentucky to get stops and buckets. And the Colonels proved they were game for the challenge.

On 11 different occasions in the second half, Austin Peay was able to cut the deficit to a single possession, beginning with a Taylor bucket at 17:41 and ending with Alec Woodard’s free-throws with 21 seconds to play. And not once did Eastern Kentucky relinquish the lead, with Green Jr. and Brandon Knapper responding time and again to combine for 26 of Eastern Kentucky’s 38 points in the second half.

The Govs battled to the final whistle. After Woodard’s free-throws, Knapper hit a pair with 19 seconds left to put the Colonels ahead by three. On the ensuing possession, Carlos Paez drove through the lane, circled back and found Taylor on the perimeter in front of the Austin Peay bench. His look rimmed out and the Colonels were able to put the game away from there.

The Difference

One team shot 45.5 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from three, and the other shot 38.2 percent from the floor (a season low) and 18.2 percent from three (also a season low). The first team was Eastern Kentucky and the second was Austin Peay.

Notably

  • This marks the first time the Govs have lost two of three at home since the end of the 2018 season, when the Govs lost the regular season finale to Murray State and in the CIT Quarterfinals against UIC.
  • Woodard’s 17 points marked a career high and also saw him lead the team in scoring for the first time in his Austin Peay career.
  • Austin Peay and Murray State lost a home game to a league foe on the same day for the first time since Jan. 26, 2017.
  • Austin Peay’s 90.5 percent (19-for-21) mark at the charity stripe was its best since Jan. 23, 2020 against Tennessee State (91.3 percent).
  • Woodard (17 points), Taylor (16), Elton Walker (13), Paez (12) and Reginald Gee (10) are the first quintet of Govs to reach double figures against a Division I opponent since Feb. 15, 2020 against… Eastern Kentucky.
    • Thirty points is the third-highest tally produced by the Austin Peay bench this season, despite coming strictly from Walker and Woodard.
  • The loss is Austin Peay’s first home loss to Eastern Kentucky since 2016.
  • This is Austin Peay’s first loss to begin January since 2017.
  • Paez reached double figures in scoring for the first time since the Dec. 8 contest at Murray State. He also equaled his career high with six rebounds.
  • Walker reached double figures for the second time in his Austin Peay career and first against a Division I opponent.
  • The plus-14 (36-22) advantage Austin Peay enjoyed on points in the paint was its most in defeat since more than doubling up UIC (50-24), March 21, 2018 in the CIT Quarterfinals. It also marks Austin Peay’s first loss this season when outscoring the opponent in the paint.
  • Gee reached double figures in scoring for the 10th time in his Austin Peay career. He’s averaging 12.2 points since rejoining the starting lineup against McKendree.
  • Milestone Watch—Career: Taylor tied Nick Stapleton for fifth all-time with 110 career starts. He also became the sixth player in program history with 1,500 career shot attempts, now standing at 1,510.

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