On Friday, March 7, the second seeded Racers of Mu**ay State defeated the Governors of Austin Peay in the Ohio Valley Conference semifinals. The final score was 73-61.
The Racers scored 15 points off of the Govs 12 turnovers, 10 of which coming via steals. The bench played a large part in the win as well, notching 30 points in relief as opposed to the 11 from the Governors.
“At their place, it was a coin flip game,” Mu**ay State coach Matt McMahon said on the difference in the final two games played against the Govs. “They made one more play than we did. We really had a hard time covering [Jordyn] Adams. They have two of the top players in the country in Adams and [Terry] Taylor…That’s what you get when these two teams play: both teams very physical and both teams played very, very hard. You get high-level games when when we get into a match up with them.”
Mu**ay had no problem locking down Adams; the freshman spearheaded the Govs offensively in the Feb. 29 meeting with 27, but was limited to 13 points on 5-18 shooting from the floor. APSU head coach Matt Figger explained following the game that Adams had been dealing with back problems that stemmed from last night’s 76-65 win against Eastern Illinois.
The Racers’ defense continued to be a strength following a seven-point lead going into the break. Despite an 8-0 run to begin the half, the Govs shot just 36.4% from the field in the final 20 minutes, as compared to the 44.8% from Mu**ay.
Over the final four minutes of action, the Racers (23-8) would shoot a perfect 5-5 from the floor along with 6-7 shooting from the free throw line to seal the victory and advance to the OVC championship game. Tevin Brown would cap off the victory for Mu**ay in the closing moments, a slam dunk in transition serving as the exclamation point.
Bench scoring was a defining factor in the two wins for Mu**ay over the Governors this season: the Racers’ bench scored 27 points on Feb. 29 in Mu**ay, but topped their previous mark with 30 on Friday. All-OVC first-team selection K.J. Williams lead the second unit with 15 points, while the combination of Chico Carter Jr. and Devin Gilmore produced a plus-minus of plus-40 when on the court.
“I thought that [Williams], Chico Carter and Devin Gilmore were the big difference,” Figger said on the bench production of the Racers. “With those three guys that they play, compared to the guys I play, there were negatives. That’s where the game was won and lost.”
Terry Taylor lead the Govs in what may have been their final game of the season, pouring in 27 points with 14 rebounds. The Governors (21-12) finish the 2020 conference postseason by tying their best conference finish in the Matt Figger era at third in the Ohio Valley.
Figger is uncertain on a postseason tournament invitation going forward, such as the Collegeinsider.com Tournament or the College Basketball Invitational. While a postseason tournament would mark the first mid-March action for the Governors since the 2018 season, the Govs goal is to reach the conference championship moving forward.
“We’ve got to get better and take the next step,” Figger said on his thoughts regarding the tournament. “We’ve been to semifinals three straight years since we took the job. We’ve got to figure out a way to get to Saturday, we’ve got to get better.”