For the first time since the 2006-07 season, APSU men’s basketball has won 10 consecutive conference games.
But to say that the win in game 22 against Eastern Illinois would be a breeze would be far from the truth. The Governors narrowly escaped against the Panthers, winning by a score of 68-64.
EIU came into the Dunn center surging, and their play showed as such: crowned victors in four of their last five games, the Panthers would finish the first period shooting 61 percent from the floor and 50 percent from behind the arc.
Free throws would be the detriment of the Panthers: shooting an abysmal 2-8 from the charity stripe in the inaugural 20 minutes, keeping the Governors in the game. EIU would finish the evening shooting 5-13 from the free throw line, nearly a fourth worse than their season average from the stripe.
The Panthers would lead the game by as many as 13, and would enter the break with a 38-31 advantage. APSU would proceed to outscore EIU 37-26 in the second half, sealing the victory thanks to a Terry Taylor tip-in in the waning moments.
Taylor led the Governors in scoring with 16, his most since a rough offensive week against SIU-Edwardsville and Belmont. The junior looked to be having another tough night in the first half, producing seven points on 2-5 shooting.
The second period would light a fire under the OVC player of the year hopeful, shooting 80% in the final 20 minutes and hauling in six rebounds.
“It’s just trusting the play calling,” Taylor said. “I tried to force things in the second half and we got down, so I tried to take it upon myself to shoot. Really I just need to play within the offense and find as much as there is.”
APSU locked down the leading scorer for the Panthers, only allowing seven points from Josiah Wallace: the junior poured in 24 points in their previous game against Mu**ay State, yet only made 3-10 field goals on the evening.
Head coach Matt Figger accredited the defense of Jordyn Adams for the locking down of Wallace.
“Not only do we have to get stuff from (Adams) on the perimeter, but he has to go guard the other team’s best player as well,” Figger said.
Eastern Illinois slightly out-rebounded the Governors on the glass, securing 29 over the 28 by the Govs. The Panthers average 37.5 rebounds per game, which ranks inside the NCAA’s top-100 teams in total rebounds per contest.
The Govs improve to 16-7 on the season, with an unblemished conference record of 10 wins and zero losses. APSU looks to continue their hot streak at Tennessee State University Thursday, Feb. 6. Eastern Illinois fell to 4-6 in the OVC, with an 11-11 mark overall. The Panthers will host Eastern Kentucky on the same evening.