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APSU drops season opener to Cincinnati

APSU Athletics Communications

By Dylan Schwartz

APSU Athletics Communications

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Austin Peay fought valiantly, but fell to Cincinnati, 69-48 at Fifth Third Arena Tuesday.

The Govs (0-1) came out and matched the physicality and tempo of the Bearcats (1-0), but turnovers off the Bearcats press kept killing the Govs as they tried to spoil the grand re-opening of Fifth Third Arena.

Coach David Midlick used a healthy rotation of players to keep the Bearcats on their heels, with Kelen Kenol especially delivering off the bench. Kenol made two strong moves in the post to knot the game at eight a piece around midway through the first. The Govs did not let the press dictate the intensity of their play, with the Govs continuing to make hustle plays to keep the game close, in particular Nieja Crawford. The Govs headed into the huddle after one quarter only down by two.

However, while the Govs shot respectably in the first quarter, the Govs went cold in the second and continued to gift Cincinnati points off turnovers. The Govs were getting in good positions in and around the basket, but the ball simply wouldn’t go in. To make matters worse, Cincy went 9-12 from the field in the period, compared to the Govs shooting just 3-14.

The Bearcats went into the break up 16, but the Govs came out fighting in the 3rd quarter, sparked by an inch perfect pass from Kasey Kidwell to Arielle-Gonzalez Varner. The Govs got within 12 points three separate times, but couldn’t go on that one big run to whittle the lead down to single digits. The Bearcats and Govs were nearly even on the boards on the night, but the Bearcats dominated inside offensively, outscoring the Govs 44-20 in the paint. The Bearcats stretched their lead to 19, but Michaela Campbell provided a major spark, hitting a deep trey and then running the length of the floor and finishing amongst three defenders to beat the buzzer. The Govs were down 14 but outscored the Bearcats in the third quarter.

The Govs defense continued to play tough though, continuing to be in striking distance. However, they picked a bad time to go cold as there was about a stretch of six minutes where the Govs could not find a bucket, as Cincy started to stretch their lead. Despite the tough shooting quarter, the Bearcats only won the second half by five.

The Govs return to action by opening their home slate against Christian Brothers, 7 p.m., Friday.

Notably

  • This was only the second all-time meeting between the Govs and Bearcats
  • Kelen Kenol led the Govs with nine points off the bench
  • The Govs outrebounded the Bearcats (37-35)
  • Midlick used every available player on the Govs roster
  • Maggie Knowles earned her first career start in her first official career game
  • Turnovers hurt the Govs, with 24 committed, the most since the opening game of the conference schedule against SIU Edwardsville last season
  • The Govs hit six three’s, all coming from six different players
  • Crawford led the Govs in steals and assists on the night

Midlick’s Musings

“First of all I am pleased of our effort. For us to go 6-32 from three and have 24 turnovers, which we’re going to do with a young team on the road against a top half American Athletic Conference team, I thought our effort from our ladies was first-rate. Now, there are things we have to clean up so that we can compete a little better and win those types of basketball games, but I’m very proud of the ladies tonight.”

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