First-half offensive explosion drives Austin Peay Govs to road win over Morehead State
APSU Sports Information
Morehead, KY – Austin Peay State University (APSU) women’s basketball team erupted from beyond the arc in the first half, winning on the road against Morehead State, 84-75, Thursday, at Ellis Johnson Arena.
The Governors (12-12, 7-6 OVC) earned a crucial win behind nine first-half three-pointers to earn sole possession of fifth place in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Austin Peay Women’s Basketball gets 84-75 road win against Morehead State Thursday night. (APSU Sports Information)
Maggie Knowles hit a triple on the first possession of the game for the Govs, which was a sign of things to come.
The emphasis was on pushing the tempo and shooting the long ball. Six of the first nine shots for APSU were from beyond the arc and 12 of the 18 shots in the quarter were long balls. The three-point emphasis sometimes can be a dangerous game, but it was anything but that for the Govs in the first half.
Brianah Ferby knocked in two triples in three possessions before Logan Carger nailed a three-pointer of her own for her first career bucket as a Gov since joining the team last month.
However, the Govs were not running away with the game by any means. Morehead State was shooting the ball extremely well, but were not taking a lot of threes. McKenzie Calvert led the Eagles with 11 first-quarter points and Aliyah Jeune came off the bench and scored the final eight points of the quarter for Morehead, six of those from two three-pointers, but the Govs maintained a slim lead, 28-26.
The Govs showed no signs of slowing down at the start of the second quarter, with Keisha Gregory hitting a three-pointer to extend the Govs lead to seven, the largest at the time. The Eagles started to close little by little, with the only Govs shot to go in out of their next nine a Michaela Campbell three-pointer. Morehead tied the game up before the Govs responded with a 9-0 run, including Knowles hitting her third three of the half.
A key moment in the game happened with only a few seconds left in the half, as Jeune picked up her third foul and Gregory made her free throws to extend the Govs lead to eight, 51-43, at halftime. The nine three-pointers in the half were the most in a half this season and the 51 points the most since the first half against Eastern Kentucky.
The first half was an offensive explosion, but the second half was much more tempered. Morehead State decided to start with Jeune, possessing three fouls, to start the second half as well. The threes slowed down and the Govs went on a 1-of-11 field goal stretch as the Eagles cut the lead to four on a 7-0 run. The only field goal in that stretch was a Gregory triple, which ended up being the only three-pointer the Govs made in the first half.
Despite going cold from the field, the Govs remained red hot from the free-throw line, going 9-of-10 from the stripe in the third quarter alone. Using the free points, the Govs maintained their lead, leading 67-60, despite shooting 3-of-14 from the field in the quarter.
The Govs turned up the defense in the fourth quarter after the Eagles shot almost 50 percent from the field through the first three quarters. The Govs did not shoot lights out again in the quarter, but they kept up their free-throw shooting and took care of the ball. The Govs committed only seven turnovers, tied for the fewest this season, against a Morehead State team who led the OVC in turnover margin and steals per game.
The Govs continued to not allow Morehead State to get close, holding the Eagles to no field goals for over five minutes at one point in the quarter. The Eagles got big stat lines from Calvert (27 points) and Jeune (24 points, 10 rebounds), but Calvert had seven turnovers by herself and Jeune was the only Morehead player to hit a three-pointer, albeit five of them.
A Miranda Crockett jumper cut the lead to seven, but that was the closest the Eagles got, as Austin Peay continued their impressive free-throw shooting to close the game out. The Govs made 28 free throws overall, the most in a game since January 9, 2016, and earned a crucial win on the road over the conference’s second-place team, 84-75.
The Govs scored tied their mark for most points in the first quarter all season (28), but also tied the number they gave up the most in the first quarter (26).
Arielle Gonzalez-Varner recorded her sixth career double-double, her second in three games.
The 51 points in the first half was the most in a half since the OVC opener against Eastern Kentucky (57, first half).
The 28 made free throws were the most in a game since Jan. 9, 2016 against Tennessee Tech.
Keisha Gregory made 11 free throws, a new career-high.
Maggie Knowles recorded a new career-high of eight rebounds while making three three-pointers in game for the fourth time this season.
Logan Carger nailed her first basket, a three-pointer, as a Gov.
The nine three-pointers in the first half are the most in a half this season.
APSU Head Coach David Midlick’s Musings
“It was no different of strategy in the three-point shooting and we needed them in the first half because they (Morehead) were hot as well. We were fortunate enough to be 9-20 on threes in the first half, but only 1-10 in the second half. Our defensive effort in the second half was good as can be against a really good offensive team.”
Next Up for APSU
The APSU Govs return to the Dunn Center for the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border against Murray State Saturday at 2:00pm.