APSU Govs fall at EIU despite career day from Porter-Bunton
Austin Peay State University Sports Information
Charleston, IL – In a physical matchup, Austin Peay State University (APSU) men’s basketball team rallied back from an early deficit but couldn’t hang on in an 85-83 loss at Eastern Illinois in Lantz Arena, Saturday.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak and ended any hopes Austin Peay (13-6, 5-1 OVC) might’ve had of running the table in league play.
Austin Peay Men’s Basketball falls late to Eastern Illinois, 85-83. (APSU Sports Information)
For Eastern Illinois (11-8, 4-2), the win represents a statement game for a program looking to crack the upper echelon of league schools.
Eastern Illinois started out on absolute fire from the floor, hitting five straight shots to start the contest and stake an 11-4 lead. Even though they finally missed at the 15-minute mark, the Panthers remained hot from the floor, hitting 12-of-16 to start the game and take a nine-point lead with seven minutes to play in the half.
The Govs rallied late in the first, closing the half with a Chris Porter-Bunton tip-in as time expired to get within six (43-37) at the half.
Although Josiah Wallace—who led all scorers with 27 points—hit a three to open the second half, the Govs quickly got within a bucket thanks to a three-pointer by senior Zach Glotta and took the lead on a Porter-Bunton jumper with 14:20 to play. This was part of a 19-1 run the Govs went on to go from behind by seven to a 14-point lead with 9:48 to go.
Just as quickly the lead was taken, it was erased. A 16-2 Eastern Illinois run culminating in a Kashwan Charles three-pointer with 5:57 to play had the game back square as the two teams entered crunch time.
Down the stretch, both teams traded haymakers. A Terry Taylor dunk put Austin Peay State University up a point, but Eastern Illinois’ Shareef Smith raced down the court for a lay-up to give the Panthers another lead. With under two minutes to play, Smith hit a pair of free-throws but was answered by a Jabari McGhee layup.
Ultimately, Smith was a difference-maker for Eastern Illinois; he scored the Panthers’ final 10 points, from crucial free-throws to ice-cold jumpers. After Porter-Bunton hit a pair of clutch free-throws with 27 seconds to play, Smith got into the lane and hit a jumper with less than three seconds to play; a last-gasp heave from near midcourt missed its mark and the hosts escaped with a win.
For as good as the Austin Peay State University Govs have been on the glass during the Matt Figger era, it was jarring to see them outrebounded by 15. The Panthers owned a 39-24 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive rebounds. The minus-15 margin equaled the Troy contest for the largest deficit the Govs have endured with Figger at the helm, and the 24 rebounds equaled Austin Peay’s season-low.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Govs against the Panthers, a four-game winning streak for the Govs in Charleston and a six-game road winning streak in league play.
Porter-Bunton finished with a career-high 24 points, hitting all three three-point attempts (a career-high in made three-pointers) and 7-of-8 at the line. It marked his first 20-point night of the season and third of his Austin Peay career.
Austin Peay lost for the just the second time this season when shooting 45 percent or better, and also endured its second loss when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent.
The Govs made 13 three-pointers, their most since hitting 14 in the 2016-17 season finale against Southeast Missouri. The 56.5 percent (13-of-23) mark from deep was Austin Peay’s best since February 3rd, 2018 at Southeast Missouri.
For the second time this season, the Govs posted a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team.
Freshman Antwuan Butler broke into double figures in the scoring column for the first time as a Gov, finishing with 10 points.
The Govs hit 46.7 percent from the floor, extending their streak of games above 40 percent from the floor to 16.
The 62.5 percent mark from three that Eastern Illinois hit was the highest by an Austin Peay opponent since Lipscomb hit 62.1 percent from deep, December 20th, 2016.
Junior Isaiah Hart equaled his career-high in points (six) and three-pointers (two) in a career-high 16 minutes.
With a trio of three-pointers, Glotta broke into Austin Peay’s career top-10 with 151, passing Vincent Brooks (1984-85; 86-89); he’s nine away from passing Travis Betran (2012-14) for ninth.
Austin Peay’s 20 second-chance were its most against a Division I opponent this season.
Up Next for Austin Peay State University
Next weekend will be a big one for the APSU Govs. Thursday, January 24th—the Tennessee State contest—also doubles as Academic Night to recognize Austin Peay’s standout student-athletes.
During Saturday’s January 26th contest against Belmont, Austin Peay State University will welcome back its quartet of legends who gained enshrinement into the APSU Athletics Hall of Fame during Friday night’s dinner and induction ceremony.