TN Sports 360

Govs’ best start in 17 years continues

APSU Athletics Communications

By Casey Crigger

APSU Athletics Communications

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – For the first time in 17 years, Austin Peay improved to 4-0 to start OVC play; the Governors dominated nearly every facet of the game against SIUE and posted a 73-54 win over the Cougars, Thursday, at the Vadalabene Center.

Entering Thursday’s contest, SIUE (3-4, 0-2 OVC) led the OVC with a +6.2 rebounding margin; but Austin Peay (6-2, 4-0 OVC) dominated the Cougars on the glass, outrebounding one of the league’s top rebounding teams, 50-32. The Cougars also led the OVC in offensive rebounding, but the Governors controlled the offensive glass as well, outrebounding SIUE, 22-15, and outscoring the Cougars by 12 points in second-chance opportunities.

SIUE won the tip and scored first, but the lead was short-lived as the Maggie Knowles got open and drilled a three-pointer on the Governors first possession of the game. Back-to-back buckets from Myah LeFlore helped the Govs build a four-point lead, but the Cougars responded with a 8-0 run of their own to take an 11-7 lead.

However, the Govs had a run of their own for the Cougars, and a Kasey Kidwell offensive rebound led to a Nina De Leon Negron layup that sparked the offense for Austin Peay. Knowles and Brianah Ferby connected from three-point range on each of the next two possessions, before a Kelen Kenol layup put the Govs up four. Finally, Knowles capped the 13-2 scoring run with her third triple of the first quarter, giving the Governors a seven-point advantage with 1:22 left in the period.

SIUE got the final bucket of the first quarter to trim the deficit to five, and then the two squads traded baskets for the first four minutes of the second quarter. With 6:10 left before the half, Brandi Ferby knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Austin Peay lead to 11 points, marking the first time it reached double-digits in the contest.

With 3:17 left before halftime, De Leon Negron scored on a fast-break layup to ignite a 9-1 Governors run to close out the half. Knowles hit her fourth three-pointer of the half and then D’Shara Booker got her first bucket of the contest to give Austin Peay a 14-point advantage. Finally, De Le Negron stole the ball in the backcourt and dished to Knowles for an easy layup to cap the run and push the Govs lead to 16. However, SIUE hit a free throw to close the half, and the Governors held a 37-22 led at the break.

After the Cougars connected from three-point range to start the second half, Tahanee Bennell had the answer for the Govs, drilling her first three of the contest. Thirty seconds after the Bennell triple, Knowles drilled her fifth and final three-pointer of the game to start another big run for the Governors.

After pulling down an offensive rebound, Booker hit a second-chance layup and then blocked a shot on the defensive end that led to a Kenol layup. After another offensive rebound for the Govs, Kemia Ward scored a second-chance bucket to give Austin Peay its first 20-point lead of the contest.

With 2:22 left before the half, Bennell hit her second triple of the contest and then knocked down a pair of free throws to keep the scoring spurt going. Then Kidwell put the finishing touches on the 10-3 run, getting a quick steal and dishing to LeFlore for a layup that gave Austin Peay a 26-point advantage with 1:05 left in the third quarter.

After SIUE trimmed the lead back to 24, Bennell hit a spinning layup in the lane at the buzzer to give Austin Peay a 61-35 lead at the end of the third period.

The Governors started the final quarter by stretching their lead to 28 – the biggest of the day – when Kenol hit a layup off another Austin Peay offensive rebound. Austin Peay and SIUE traded baskets for most of the final period, and the Cougars were able to cut into the deficit in the final minute of the contest. But it was too little, too late for the SIUE and the Governors picked up their fourth-straight win to start conference play.

The Difference

Rebounding. SIUE led the OVC with a +6.2 rebound margin and the Govs ranked sixth with a margin of -0.9; but hey, no worries. The Governor’s dominated the glass and had a +18 rebounding margin against the Cougars. Austin peay was also +7 on the offensive glass, and outscored the Cougars, 18-6, in second-chance points.

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