After a first half that saw the Governors shoot 28.6% from the field, a late comeback bid came up just short on a Terry Taylor missed three-pointer that likely would have sent the game to overtime.
Eastern Kentucky came out far more efficient than APSU in the first 20 minutes. The Colonels opened the game on a 7-0 run, while the Governors shot just 1-10 from the field over the first four minutes of action.
The Govs’ first half scoring woes would continue later in the period. Over the final 8:21 before halftime, the Governors went without a field goal and ended up missing their final 10 shot attempts. EKU held a 42-32 advantage going into the break.
APSU’s field goal drought ended nearly 90 seconds into the second half, courtesy of an Alec Woodard made jumper. The sophomore would be a focal point on both ends of the court for the Governors in the comeback effort, finishing with a career-high 17 points on the night to go along with a pair of steals.
With a 78-75 Eastern Kentucky advantage and 17.7 seconds remaining, Carlos Paez took the inbound pass and raced towards the opposite baseline. After circling under the basket, Paez kicked it out to an open Terry Taylor who attempted the game-tying shot from the right wing. Taylor’s shot hit the top of the rim and fell into the hands of a Colonel defender. EKU would go on to hit the ensuing free throws and come away with an 80-75 victory.
Over the final 20 minutes, APSU shot 48.5% from the field, a drastic increase from the first half’s dreadful 28.6% mark. While the Governors were far more impressive after the intermission, they were unable to slow Eastern’s Wendell Green Jr. who ended the night with a career-high 30 points.
Although his team was able to keep the contest competitive for the majority of the second half, head coach Matt Figger says the game never felt as close as it was.
“As close as the game was, I never felt like we were as close as the score board was,” Figger said. “We made some runs to give us a chance, but I felt like they kept us within enough of a reach not to let us tie the game.”
On a night that saw both of the Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason favorites fall – APSU to EKU and Mu**ay to Morehead State — the OVC is beginning to display its depth. While the coach is not surprised by the intensity throughout, Figger realizes the importance of winning such crucial home matchups.
“The league is very, very competitive,” Figger said. “I knew it was going to be. There’s a lot of good teams in this league…It’s a war and we stubbed our toe and just gave one away that we needed. If you are going to compete for titles, you have to win your home games.”
Figger and the Governors will look to rebound from the defeat when they hit the road next Thursday against SIUE. The game begins a four-game road trip for the Govs, who will not play in the Dunn until a Jan. 21 contest against Tennessee Tech.