Win, and you’re in.
That’s all that mattered when the ball tipped off Thursday, Feb. 27 between Austin Peay women’s basketball and Morehead State. Both teams came into the contest having won three of their last four while vying for a spot in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
The Governors had their spot solidified at the final buzzer, defeating the Eagles 70-65. The win earned their fifth conference tournament berth in as many years under head coach David Midlick.
Freshman Ella Sawyer stole the show from senior honorees in Nieja Crawford, Gabby Gregory, and Arielle Gonzales-Varner, pouring in a new career best of 21, 14 of which being produced in the second half.
“We’ve been working a lot on finishing,” said Sawyer on the game plan against the Eagles. “That’s something I’ve really struggled with the past few games. I think that really paid off for me tonight, I just got in there and was a bit more patient.”
Patience would be crucial against Morehead State: the Eagles rank as the third best team in the NCAA in blocks per game, averaging over six a game. Head coach David Midlick said that the team emphasized shot-faking going into the contest and paid off in doing so.
The Govs were able to hold off a second half resurgence from the Eagles, due in part to injuries. Two MSU players were unable to return following ankle injuries midway through the third, leaving six players in Morehead’s rotation for the remaining 15 minutes.
Combine this with three players in foul trouble, and mental lapses would soon kick in come crunch time.
In the final 30 seconds of play, the Eagles would be on the opposite end of back-to-back offensive foul calls, limiting themselves to one three point attempt after the game was put out of reach.
Midlick raved on the trio of seniors on his team after the game, saying “They’re good players, they’re better people: they’re good students, they’re good teammates, they’ve been good to coach. They’ve meant a lot to this program mainly because they’ve been really good teammates.”
APSU currently stands as the seventh seed in the OVC tournament. That placing is not concrete, as a victory Saturday combined with a loss from the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State would put the Govs in sixth via a tiebreaker.
The 2020 regular season will conclude Feb. 28, as the Governors travel to battle against Mu**ay state. The Govs were victorious in the previous outing between the two squads, defeating the Racers at home 69-61.
“We want to get better tomorrow, and play our best against Mu**ay”, said Midlick. “There’s some definite things on that film that we’ve got to correct, there’s some things we really did well, but we’ve got to push home.”