Terry Taylor walks off an OVC floor for the final time. BLAINE KELLAR | THE ALL STATE.

Terry Taylor walked off the court for the last time as a Governor on Thursday, March 4.

APSU was defeated by the Eastern Kentucky Colonels, 70-67, in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. The loss brought an end to their season and was the final time that the program’s most decorated student-athlete in Taylor donned the number 21 as a Gov.

Coming into the game, APSU was 13-0 when holding teams to under 72 points, 11-0 when their opponent shot under 45% from the floor and 11-0 when out-shooting their competition.

Despite accomplishing all three feats, the Colonels were the ones whose season lived to see another day.

Featuring 15 lead changes, the contest between one of the OVC’s most historic rivalries resembled battles that the two programs had in the early 2000’s. From 2003-08, APSU and EKU combined for eight OVC regular season and tournament championships.

With under four minutes into the game, the Governors led 16-7 courtesy of nine points from Taylor and were on the heels of a 10-0 run.

After seeming to have no answer for the two-time OVC Player of the Year early, the Colonels were able to virtually neutralize Taylor for the remainder of the half. EKU held the senior scoreless for the final 14:27, while the teams entered a back-and-forth duel and were tied at 37 after 20 minutes.

The Colonels came out of the half on a 16-5 run after hitting eight of their first 12 shots from the field and took the game’s largest lead prior to the under-12 media timeout. 

With 10 minutes remaining, APSU displayed arguably its most dominating five minutes of basketball in a valiant second-half comeback effort by holding EKU scoreless and putting up 11-straight points on the offensive end.

The Govs retook the lead for the first time in the second half with 5:30 remaining. As was the case throughout the night, however, EKU found a way to bounce back with just under two minutes to play.

Reginald Gee gave APSU a 67-66 advantage after a right-corner three with 1:40 remaining, but it proved to be the last time the team led as the Colonels scored the final four points.

A last-second triple from Carlos Paez was blocked, leading to EKU’s advancement in the OVC Tournament and a 9:30 p.m. contest with Morehead State the following night.

“It was a hard-fought game,” said APSU head coach Matt Figger. “Our guys never gave in, never quit. We were in a nip-and-tuck battle through the first half. Eastern Kentucky’s got a really, really good team. We got down, we could have laid down and we didn’t. 

“[The] kids fought; they were resilient. Statistically, we did what we could defensively to hold them under wraps.”

Throughout Figger’s tenure at APSU, turnover has been a constant challenge. In regard to assistant coaches and players, no members of the coach’s initial roster remain, except for one—Terry Taylor.

Recruited by Dave Loos when coming out of Bowling Green High School, Taylor remained committed to APSU when Figger took over the reins prior to the 2017-18 season.

Through his commitment to the university and his head coach’s vision, Taylor has had one of the most successful careers of any student-athlete in both APSU and OVC history.

Taylor’s two OVC Player of the Year selections make him just one of 15 players to receive the award multiple times, with his four straight first-team All-OVC nods making him just one of three.

The Bowling Green, Ky. native finished his career as APSU’s all-time leader in scoring (2,507), field goals made (967) and attempted (1,804) and minutes played (4,368). He also ranks top-five in the APSU record books in other statistical categories such as rebounds, free throws made and attempted, blocks and more.

While his accolades on the court are seemingly endless, Taylor embodies what it means to be a student-athlete, according to his head coach.

“I think he is the ultimate persona of what a student-athlete should look like,” Figger said. “[He] carries himself in a manner not only being a great human being, community service, academically, the things he does on the court athletically.

“This was a kid who was not a highly sought-after prospect coming out of high school, so he was able to show that if you dedicate yourself, you believe in yourself, and you work extremely hard, there [are] great things that can happen for you as a person. He should symbolize what student-athletes should strive to be.”

Following his final time on a collegiate court, Taylor concluded with the following:

“I am forever thankful for my time in Clarksville and Austin Peay. It made me who I am, it made me more grateful. It made me hungrier to play the game, because people look down on Austin Peay and it just makes you want to go out there and prove them wrong. Austin Peay forever has my heart. I am forever a Gov.”