Gonzalez-Varner’s historic night not enough as Govs’ comeback falls short
APSU Sports Information
Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball team put together a ferocious comeback attempt highlighted by Arielle Gonzalez-Varner’s historic night, but fell to Mississippi Valley State, 95-89, Monday night, at the Winfield Dunn Center.
Austin Peay Women’s Basketball junior Arielle Gonzalez-Varner had a career high 32 points and 23 rebounds in loss to Mississippi State Valley Monday night at the Dunn Center. (APSU Sports Information)
The Govs’ (2-3) comeback try was spearheaded by Gonzalez-Varner, who had a career night on a lot of counts. Gonzalez-Varner finished with 32 points and 23 rebounds, both career-highs, with the 23 boards also setting a new school record.
Gonzalez-Varner is also the first player in program history to have a game with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds.
The Govs got off to a slow start, allowing the Delta Devilettes (1-2) to open the game on a 10-2 run compromised by five Govs turnovers in the opening four minutes. The Govs hit the boards hard to keep themselves in the game, especially Gonzalez-Varner. The Govs were getting many second chance points, but MVSU consistently pressured the Govs, as MVSU ended up with 34 total points off turnovers.
Gonzalez-Varner had a double-double by the first minute of the second quarter and the Govs cut into the lead. MVSU had a stretch of zero points in four minutes, but erupted out of nowhere, as they went on a 10-0 run and hit three three-pointers on four possessions to go into the half up six.
MVSU continued its hot shooting in the third quarter, hitting another two threes out of the break to make it five straight from beyond the arc as they pushed the lead to 14 off the back of an 8-0 run. Keisha Gregory hit back-to-back threes near the end of the quarter to cut the lead back to six, but MVSU answered once again, hitting with two back-to-back threes of their own to lead by 12 after the third quarter.
MVSU continued to push the pace and try and break the press set up by the Govs, routinely launching balls up in the air for grabs. LaKendra Bassett led MVSU with 22 points, with most of her points coming off running the floor and finishing in transition.
The Delta Devilettes started the final frame on another 8-0 run to push the lead to 20 with under eight minutes to go, but that is when the Govs made their comeback try. The Govs embarked on an 11-1 run to get the lead to 10, with another Gregory three cutting it to seven on the next possession.
However, MVSU’s Makayla Bonner converted a three-point play to extend the lead back to double digits. The game looked done and dusted, but the Govs kept fighting. Nieja Crawford and Gregory, who went four-of-six from downtown, both hit threes to make it a six-point game. The Govs then stole the ball and Gonzalez-Varner finished to make it only a four-point game.
The Govs then played the free-throw game hoping MVSU, who came in shooting just 47 percent from the free-throw line, would miss. Brianah Ferby hit a three to cut it to just three points, but the Devil Devilettes hit nine of their last ten free throws to hold off the comeback.
The Govs take a week off before welcoming Northern Kentucky to the Dunn Center next Monday.
Gonzalez-Varner set career highs in points (32) and rebounds (23)
Her 23 rebounds (16 offensive) were a new school record
Her 32 points are the highest for a Governor since Tearra Banks in January of 2016 (31)
Gonzalez-Varner is the first player in program history to have a game with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds
The Govs are now 0-3 against the Devil Devilettes
The Govs scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, the most since SIUE (31) in January of 2017
APSU coach David Midlick’s Musings
On the game:
“I was proud of our team’s effort in the fourth period with not quitting and not giving up down 20. But we cannot have 26 turnovers and we had trouble keeping people in front of us. They shot 69 percent and we just have to be better than that.”
“Ari was just really good for us under the basket. She caught a lot of tough passes, scored, and had double teams on her in the second half and still had a monster game.”