By Trent Singer – firstname.lastname@example.org
NASHVILLE – In an exciting start to the Ohio Valley Conference women’s tournament, the Lady Govs defeated the Morehead State Eagles, 84-83, in double overtime on Wednesday, Feb. 29, to advance to tomorrow’s game against the No. 3 seed Murray State Racers at noon in Municipal Auditorium.
Senior Whitney Hanley ended the game with a career-high 38 points, despite scoring only six in the first half.
“I honestly don’t know if I have words to describe the game we just played,” said head coach Carrie Daniels. “We had to fight just to be here and be one of the eight, and I think they have continued through. That was an unbelievable basketball game.”
Although the Lady Govs pulled out the dramatic victory, the team struggled to capitalize in the first half, trailing the Eagles, 29-37.
From beyond the arc, the Lady Govs finished the first half shooting 14%, hitting 1-of-7, while Junior Kaitlyn Hill led the team in scoring with nine points.
The Lady Govs came back in the second half hoping to cut their eight-point deficit, but Morehead State would not budge.
With 9:41 left in the second half, Morehead State led by as many as 15 points, but the Lady Govs slowly cut the lead down as Hanley began to shine.
“Whitney Hanley put this team on her back and said ‘Let’s go,’” Daniels said. “I think she definitely showed she is not ready for her career to be over in that Austin Peay uniform.”
In the game’s final four minutes, the Lady Govs began an 11-2 run that included four points from freshman Kristen Stainback, two from junior Leslie Martinez and five from Hanley.
Perhaps the most impressive of her five points came from the free-throw line, where Hanley entered the game ranked 10th nationally in percentage.
With five seconds left, Hanley hit both free throws to tie the score at 61 and send the game into overtime.
“I didn’t really think about the score,” said Hanley. “I just relaxed and shot it.”
In overtime, both teams continued to fight back and forth, as the Lady Govs took their first lead of the game with just under three minutes remaining.
With a 74-71 lead and 16 seconds remaining, Morehead State’s Linda Dixon responded by hitting a key three-pointer to send the game into its second overtime.
In the second overtime, the two teams continued to stay within two points of each other, but after freshman Nicole Olszewski hit the biggest free throw of her brief Lady Govs career, the Eagles failed to convert a driving lay-up as time expired, sending the Lady Govs to tomorrow’s contest against Murray State.
“You want to be playing your best ball this time of year,” Daniels said. “We’ve never, at any point we’ve been down by that type of margin, hung our heads and given up.”
In their first meeting against Morehead State, the Lady Govs lost 67-74, despite coming back and outscoring the Eagles, 44-31 in the second half.
The two teams met for a second time two weeks ago on Saturday, Feb. 18, when the Lady Govs took the Eagles into overtime, winning 88-81.
“You have to dig deep,” Martinez said. “Regardless if you’re frustrated, you just have to try to stay at a certain level the whole time.”
After a slow first half, Hanley scored 32 points, 18 of which came in the overtime periods.
The Lady Govs will now prepare to take on the Murray State Racers, a team they’ve beaten twice this year. Tip-off will begin at noon tomorrow, March 1, in Municipal Auditorium.
“It’s tournament time,” Daniels said. “We have to focus on our game tomorrow at noon and be as prepared as we can be.”