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Clarksville, TN – Career victory No. 500 certainly didn’t go exactly how Austin Peay State University head men’s basketball coach Dave Loos drew it up, but he’ll gladly take it all the same.
After trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half, Loos’ Governors staged a furious second-half rally to post an 85-80 victory to remain alive in the Ohio Valley Conference race and secure a hallowed milestone for the longtime head of the program.
Austin Peay Men’s Basketball coach Dave Loos gets 500th Victory Thursday night at the Dunn Center. (APSU Sports Information)
The Governors could not get going in the first half, going down by double digits before the first media timeout and hitting rock-bottom to trail by 19 points at the 8:47 mark.
John Murry then provided the first spark for the Govs, scoring a dozen points over the final 6:36 of the first half to drag the Govs within 10 points, 43-33, at the break.
The Govs would need less than 10 minutes to erase the entire deficit in the second half, with Josh Robinson erasing a 1-for-6 start with a seven-point outburst that took the Govs to within four points.
Jared Savage capped the comeback with a jumper-steal-putback dunk sequence to give the Governors a lead they would never relinquish.
The latter stages of the game were not without drama in their own right. After stretching the lead to double-digits with 5:10 to go, a 14-6 run would get the Panthers within a bucket at the 1:53 mark, but that would be as close as Eastern Illinois could get as the Govs—who shot 65.6 percent from the free-throw line for the game—hit 8-of-11 to close out the contest.
The night belonged to Loos, who became the 97th head coach in Division I history to amass 500 career wins. Research pegs him as the fourth coach with OVC ties, joining Cal Luther (500, UT Martin and Murray State), Gene Keady (531 after starting his career at Western Kentucky during their OVC days) and Belmont’s Rick Byrd.
When the offense scuffled in the first half, Murry provided the spark, scoring 18 of his game-high 32 points in the first 20 minutes.
After having seven 10-point-in-less-than-five-minutes outbursts to his credit already in 2016-17, Murry pulled the trick twice in this game, scoring 12 from 6:36-2:32 (4:04) in the first half and another 10 from 9:04-5:47 (3:17) in the second half.
The win gives the Govs three straight over the Panthers and their first season sweep since 2010-11.
Robinson broke out with 22 of his 25 points in the second half and averaged 30.5 ppg in two contests against the Panthers this season. He also surpassed Lenny Manning (1981-84) for 12th all-time in scoring (1,448 points).
Speaking of good outings against Eastern Illinois, Kenny Jones tallied yet another double-double, his season’s ninth, with 12 points and 11 boards. In four career games against the Panthers, Jones has posted three double-doubles and averaged 11.8 ppg and 8.3 rebounds on 55.3 percent (21-for-38) shooting.
Austin Peay outscored Eastern Illinois 34-16 in the paint, the Govs largest deficit against a Division I foe in 2016-17.
Murry was simply sensational, posting career-highs in points (32), field goals (10) and three-pointers (four). It was Austin Peay’s third-best individual scoring night of the 2016-17 season, with two of the three coming against the Panthers (Robinson had 36 points in the January 14th contest).
The 16 points provided by the Austin Peay bench was the most by the Governors reserves since December 20th against Evansville.
The night began with a lineup shakeup that saw Zach Glotta make his season’s fifth start and Dre’Kalo Clayton among the starting five for the second time in his APSU career.
The Govs equaled their season-high with 32 attempted free-throws while committing a season-low nine fouls.
“I’m thankful. I told our players that there are a lot of people who contributed to the amount of wins—players, fans. I saw people tonight who have probably been here for all of the home wins. It’s rewarding, but it’s a team effort, because you’re only as good as your players, coaches and fans.”
On the early deficit and comeback
“We started guarding and rebounding. Our defense picked up, we forced some turnovers and once we started rebounding a little bit, it really helped us.”
Up Next for APSU Govs
Austin Peay closes out the home schedule Saturday night with a 6:30pm contest against SIU Edwardsville on Senior Night in the Dunn Center.
Govs beat EIU for Career Win No. 500 for head coach Dave Loos
About APSU Sports Information
Austin Peay State University Sports Information provides the latest news and updates on the Athletic endeavors of the student-athletes at APSU. Under the direction of Brad Kirtley, the APSU SID’s office consists of Cody Bush, and Colby Wilson. To contact the APSU Sports Information office, contact, 931.221.7561.