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Porter-Bunton reaches 1,000, Govs advance to semifinals

APSU Athletics Communications

By Colby Wilson

APSU Athletics Communications

EVANSVILLE—Whatever struggles Austin Peay endured in the season’s final week, you can forget about those now.

The Govs got back in the win column with a 95-81 win against Morehead State, advancing to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season and third time in four years, dominating the low post to take care of the Eagles for the third time in 2019.

Things started slowly, not necessarily from a scoring standpoint but from the start the game was disjointed. Austin Peay was whistled for four fouls in the first 4:05 of play, with Isaiah Hart entering at the 16:22 mark and exiting by 16:04 after picking up two quick fouls.

Morehead  State fared little better. The Eagles were whistled for the next seven fouls, which helped put the Govs in the bonus by the 10:11 mark in the first half. Already without All-OVC talent Lamontray Harris, the Eagles were without starters De’Von Cooper and James Baker for large portions of the half due to foul trouble, and the Govs capitalized with an array of scoring opportunities—Austin Peay hit 50.0 percent from the floor, 90.9 percent at the line and 53.8 percent from three in the first half, staking a 20-point lead into halftime.

Much of this was down to Porter-Bunton, who hit his first shot of the game and just built from there. The senior, who already has a ring and earlier this week earned his first All-OVC honor, scored 15 points in the first half alone; he hit a trio of threes, including one from halfway back to Clarksville in the midst of a 14-4 run that took Austin Peay from a two-point lead to a 12-point advantage.

Porter-Bunton’s first shot of the second half was a special one. On a stepback, he hit a jumper for his 17th point of the contest and the 1,000th of his Austin Peay career, becoming the 37th member of the 1,000-point club at Austin Peay.

Morehead State would trail by as many as 22 early in the half, but a 9-0 Eagle run cut the Austin Peay lead all the way to 11 points, forcing Austin Peay head coach Matt Figger to call a timeout at the 12:57 mark. Much of this coincided with the departure of Steve Harris, who hit the bench early in the second half with his third foul. Harris may not have been the eye-popping catalyst, but when he was on the floor the Govs were successful Thursday night; he finished with a plus-minus of plus-21, highest by a Gov.

The Eagles twice made sustained runs to put the Govs on the defensive, cutting Austin Peay’s lead to nine on a Jordan Walker three at the 8:50 mark, and cutting it back down to 10 after ending Terry Taylor’s one-man run that saw him score 11 straight points for the Govs.

But the Eagles were never able to get it closer than nine, as the Govs closed out the contest at the charity stripe; the Govs were money all game at the free-throw line, hitting 27-of-31 attempts, with Taylor going 11-of-12 and McGhee, a 58.3 percent shooter at the line entering the game, hitting 8-of-10 on the night.