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Govs crash in OVC semifinals

APSU Athletics Communications

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The end of the season is never fun. In the case of the 2020 Austin Peay, this one might sting even more than usual.

They know how good they are and how close they were.

Twenty-one wins, a chance at the conference regular season title until the season’s final day and another appearance in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals. If you want to call it a disappointment, there are plenty of guys in that locker room who would agree with you following Friday’s 73-61 loss to Murray State at the Ford Center.

They had real plans on playing much later into March.

The Govs jumped out to a 13-5 lead, making life difficult for the Racers on drives inside with active hands causing deflections and turnovers. However, back-to-back DaQuan Smith three-pointers got the Racers back into it when the Govs were flirting with an early double-digit lead.

That kickstarted a 12-0 Murray State run, with a Tevin Brown four-point play lifting the Racers into the lead. After the game was deadlocked for a time, an Austin Peay cold spell coupled with another 11-0 Racer run gave the rival squad a 32-21 lead at the final first-half media timeout.

After the early success, the Govs had begun to settle too much offensively. Needing to close the half strong, Austin Peay got a lift from Evan Hinson, who converted a three-point play and later nailed a three as time ran low get the Govs into the break trailing 36-29.

Austin Peay erased the lead entirely thanks to an 8-0 start to the second half; Jordyn Adams and Terry Taylor drained threes on back-to-back possessions, forcing a Racer timeout before Murray State could counter the Austin Peay attack.

Taylor scored 15 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, including a stretch where he scored 10 of Austin Peay’s 12 points over a near-10 minute portion of the second half. But with Adams battling a sore back sustained in last week’s meeting with the Racers and no other reliable option presenting itself, the Racers began to pull away during this stretch, three times getting multiple offensive rebounds on one trip down the floor before converting.

Taylor’s three-point play with 4:33 to go had the Governors within six points at 57-51, but Brown answered with a three and scored 10 points over the final four minutes to help the Racers solidify a place in Saturday’s championship game.

The Difference

Having KJ Williams as a reserve is going to skew the numbers a bit; the Murray State forward leads the Racer second-unit but so adept is he that he earned first-team All-OVC for his work. He and the rest of the Murray State second-unit outscored Austin Peay’s subs 30-11 Friday night, with Williams (15 points) and Chico Carter Jr. (10) leading the way. On the boards, the difference might be even starker—between Williams (11 rebounds) and Devin Gilmore (10), the Racer reserves outrebounded Austin Peay’s 23-1.

Notably

  • The loss is Austin Peay’s first to Murray State in the conference tournament since 2004.
  • Taylor took a career and team-season high 25 shots en route to 27 points and 14 rebounds.
  • The loss was Austin Peay’s first on a Friday since last season’s OVC semifinals defeat.
  • Austin Peay struggled at the charity line down the stretch, hitting 56.1 percent (37-for-66) over the season’s final four games. The seven made free-throws Friday night equaled the team season-low for 2019-20.
  • The Govs are now 17-8 all-time in the OVC Tournament semifinals.
  • Milestone Watch—Career: Taylor became the fourth Governor with 1,900 career points, joining Bubba Wells, Nick Stapleton and Drake Reed. He also took sole possession of 10th all-time with 316 career made free-throws. He’s now the 21st Division I player since the turn of the century to reach 1,900 career points before the start of his senior season.
  • Milestone Watch—Season: Taylor became sixth player in program history to reach 700 points in a single-season; at 718, he ranks fifth all-time. At 574 points as a freshman, Adams moved into the top-20 at 19th all-time among all Govs and second among freshmen. Taylor’s also the 11th player in program history with 500 shot attempts in a single season; he and Adams are the first Austin Peay teammates in program history to both put up more than 450 shots in one season.

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