By Trent Singer – firstname.lastname@example.org
NASHVILLE – Following yesterday’s double overtime victory over Morehead State, the Lady Govs’ season came to an end with a 73-90 loss to the Murray State Racers in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday, March 1.
A day after scoring a career-high 38 points, senior Whitney Hanley was held to only ten points, as she was the emphasis for much of the Murray State defensive attack.
Despite Hanley’s struggles from the field, junior Meghan Bussabarger played her best game as an APSU student athlete, scoring 29 points and shooting an impressive 11-of-13 from the field.
“It is nice to know that when you hit that first shot your coaches and players have confidence in you to drive,” Bussabarger said.
“They told me I needed to drive more and take it to the basket. You just get in the groove when your shots are falling, and it felt good.”
However, Bussabarger’s performance wasn’t enough to stop the Racers from winning the game.
The Lady Govs led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but the Racers responded by opening up their offense and going on a 17-5 run to end the period.
“They were getting penetrating drives to the basket, and we didn’t do our job in defending that,” said head coach Carrie Daniels.
“You have to give them a lot of credit. They hit some tough shots as well. I don’t want to take anything away from Murray State. I thought they played an incredible game, and I give them credit.”
APSU headed into halftime with a 43-42 lead. Bussabarger contributed 18 of the team’s 21 first-half bench points, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the field.
Defensively, the Racers did an impressive job to stop Hanley from scoring. By keeping two or three players on Hanley, the Racers forced the Lady Govs to find other scoring options from the field, limiting Hanley’s first-half playing time to only nine minutes.
In the second half, the two teams scored back and forth for the majority of the period, staying within several points of each other.
Freshman Shelby Olszewski produced 13 second-half points, finishing the game with 15, but the Lady Govs failed to find an answer on defense, allowing the Racers to run away with the win on a 16-2 run in the final three minutes.
“Our defense, I felt, was very poor,” Daniels said. “We did not execute on the defensive side of it, and the end result was us coming up on the short end of it.”
The Lady Govs were unable to convert field goals late in the game, shooting 28% from the field in the second half, while the Racers finished the period shooting 53%.
The Racers’ Kyra Watson ended the game with 23 points, shooting 9-of-11 from the field. Mariah Robinson also added 21 points to her team’s win, 18 of which came in the second half.
Regardless of the loss, the Lady Govs’ seniors have left a significant mark as APSU student athletes.
Hanley is the ninth Lady Govs player to be selected First-Team All-OVC. She finishes the regular season ranked third in the OVC in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game.
Senior Jasmine Rayner finished the season with the third highest scoring total on her team, averaging 8.1 points per game. She also added a team-high 58 offensive rebounds.
The Lady Govs return next season with several key players, including junior Leslie Martinez, sophomore Nicole Olszewski, junior Kaitlyn Hill and freshman Kristen Stainback, among others.