By Trent Singer – firstname.lastname@example.org
NASHVILLE – After entering the 2012 season with four returning starters, Austin Peay’s men’s basketball season came to its ultimate end on Wednesday night, Feb. 29, in Municipal Auditorium, as the No. 6 seeded Govs fell to the No. 7 seeded Jacksonville State Gamecocks in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament, 70-75.
Senior TyShwan Edmondson gave an outstanding first half performance, scoring 19 points for the Govs, but it wasn’t enough to stop a second-half surge from Jacksonville State’s Brian Williams, who responded from a scoreless first half by scoring 18 second-half points.
After starting slow and trailing by as many as eight with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, the Govs rallied back to take a 39-31 lead going into halftime.
The four seniors scored all but three of the team’s 39 first-half points. Edmondson ended the period 3-of-4 in three-point shots.
The Gamecocks began the second half with a 13-4 run, taking a 44-43 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
The two teams scored back and forth for several possessions until Edmondson scored his first points of the second half by hitting a three-pointer to give the Govs a four-point lead with just under six minutes left in the game.
On the team’s next possession, the Govs gained momentum after Edmondson threw a perfectly thrown alley-oop pass to senior John Fraley, giving them a 65-59 lead.
Jacksonville State continued to fight back, cutting the lead to one with a minute remaining in the game.
“You can look at the last few minutes of the game, and it was a picture of our season,” said head coach Dave Loos.
With a 70-69 lead, the Govs gave up six unanswered points. The first three came from Williams hitting a second-chance three-pointer to give Jacksonville State a 72-70 lead.
After a missed Jacksonville State free throw, the team trailed 70-73, giving Edmondson one last opportunity for a three-point shot, but the senior’s shot failed to go through as Jacksonville State came out on top, 75-70.
Although Edmondson scored only three second-half points, senior Melvin Baker contributed 15 points in the period. However, it wasn’t quite enough to rally the team to victory.
“I wasn’t being as aggressive,” Edmondson said. “I was trying to get into the post.”
Jacksonville State finished the game, outscoring the Govs 21-7 from the bench. The Govs were also out-performed from the free-throw line, shooting 11-of-20 (55%), while Jacksonville State finished the night 15-of-19 (79%) in free throws.
Throughout the game, senior Josh Terry performed impressively on defense, forcing fouls and playing well on the outside.
“He’s been very good,” Loos said. “He’s our best perimeter defender, and I thought he did a terrific job on Williams in the first half. The guy’s a good basketball player.”
Despite the loss, the Govs’ seniors finished the 2012 season with great accomplishments.
Although he missed nine games due to a concussion, Fraley earned second-team all-OVC honors, leading all players in rebounding during conference games with an average of 9.3 per game.
Terry was the only Govs player to start all 31 games this season, averaging a team second-best 12.1 points per game and leading the team in steals with 59.
Baker finished the season averaging 11.5 points per game, while also finishing sixth in the conference in rebounds, averaging 6.3 per game.
Edmondson finished the season ranked 14th in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game. The senior from Hopkinsville also led the team in scoring with 388 points.
Looking ahead, the Govs will have several key players returning to next year’s team, including freshman Herdie Lawrence, sophomore Will Triggs, junior Jerome Clyburn and junior Justin Blake, among others.