TN Sports 360

Defense difference in Govs’ win over Racers

Robert Smith/

By Casey Crigger

APSU Athletics Communications

MURRAY, Ky. – Squaring off against the OVC’s top offensive team, it was Austin Peay’s defense that won the battle, as the Governors forced 26 turnovers and recorded 17 steals en route to a 64-60 win at Murray State, Saturday, in the CFSB Center.

Brandi and Brianah Ferby spearheaded an Austin Peay full-court press that disrupted the Murray State offense in the backcourt for 60 minutes, as the twin duo each picked up five steals in the contest. When it wasn’t a Ferby hounding the Racers guards in the backcourt, it was Kasey Kidwell and Shay-Lee Kirby, who picked up a trio and a pair of steals, respectively, as the Governors held Murray State to a season-low 60 points.

The Govs fell behind out of the starting gate, as Murray State jumped out to a five-point advantage with 2:35 left to play in the first quarter. After a missed jumper by Kasey KidwellD’Shara Booker pulled down an offensive rebound and scored the second-chance bucket to keep the Racers within striking distance.

On the ensuing defensive position, Ella Sawyer drew her first of 10 fouls, getting the ball back for the Governors and setting up another bucket for Booker. However, Murray State’s Katelyn Young scored a second-chance layup of her own, and the Racers led, 14-9, at the end of the first quarter.

The start of the second quarter saw the Racers build their biggest lead of the day, as a Lex Mayes layup gave Murray State a seven-point advantage. Shay-Lee Kirby had the response for the Govs, drilling a triple to cut the lead to four, before a pair of Brandi Ferby free throws trimmed the deficit to just two.

With 1:27 left in the first half, Booker found her way to the basket and scored again;  giving the Governors their first lead since the 8:49 mark in the first quarter, when they led 2-1. Booker would find the bottom of the net for the fourth time with 20 seconds left in the half, giving Austin Peay a four-point advantage. But with four second on the clock, Mayes converted an old-fashioned three-point play, trimming the Govs lead to just one at the break.

Just a minute into the third quarter, Sawyer found a wide-open Booker cutting to the basket on an inbounds play, extending the Govs lead to three. On the next Austin Peay possession, Booker drew a foul in the post and proceeded to knock down both free throws, giving the Governors a five-point advantage – their biggest of the day so far.

The Austin Peay lead was short lived, as Murray State went on a 12-1 run and raced to a 6-point advantage with 1:57 left in the third quarter. The Governors were able to cut into the deficit before the break, as Bennell hit a free throw and Brandi Ferby knocked down a pair of free throws to close out the quarter and give Murray State a 40-37 lead.

The Govs started the fourth quarter on a tear, going on a 10-1 run that was capped off by a pair of Sawyer three-pointers, giving Austin Peay a 47-41 lead with 7:51 left to play. Halfway through the final period, Murray State went on a run of their own, scoring six-straight points to tie the game at 51 with 3:35 left to play.

With 3:14 left on the clock and the game tied at 53, Kemia Ward pulled down an offensive rebound, leading to a Brianah Ferby bank-shot jumper that gave the Governors a lead which they would never surrender. Brandi Ferby would pick up her fifth steal of the contest on the next possession, leading to a wide-open layup from Ward that gave the Govs a four-point advantage.

The Ward layup was all the Governors would need, as they knocked down seven free throws down the stretch to put a four-point win over the rival Murray State Racers on ice.  

The Difference

The Austin Peay defense. The Governors deployed a full-court press for nearly all 40 minutes of the contest, forcing 26 Murray State turnovers and outscoring the Racers, 21-13, in points off of turnovers. The Governors recorded 17 steals, and were able to force Murray State guards Macey Turley and Alexis Burpo to turn the ball over a combined 12 times.

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