Head coach David Midlick and the APSU women’s basketball team are looking for their first postseason victory since 2011.
Here’s what you need to know as the Governors make the trip to Evansville, Ind. and begin the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on March 3.
Momentum is not necessarily on the side of the 12-10 Govs, who have lost three of their last four games. The mold of the team remains the same as most years under Midlick, however: shoot the three and turn over the opposition on defense. APSU is second in the conference with 8.4 made triples per game, and is the runner up in the OVC for forced turnovers with an average of 17.6 a night.
They haven’t featured a go-to player this season, and plan on continuing to implement more of a balanced offensive attack as the tournament begins. The Govs have seven players that average at least six points per contest, all of which totaling 85% of the team’s point production.
Their inside-out offensive style speaks to the depth of the seventh-seeded ranking. Maggie Knowles and Brianah Ferby make up the bulk of the scoring, with each averaging over nine points per contest. Redshirt sophomore D’Shara Booker has come on as of late, too, scoring at least 10 points in five of her last six games, including a 21-point outburst at Eastern Kentucky Feb. 22.
The Govs’ championship hopes begin on Wednesday, March 3 in a rematch of last season’s first round game. No. 2 Belmont boasts a 17-5 record and has won seven straight games heading into the postseason. Alongside a talented freshman class, the Bruins put up a season-high 89 points in their road finale against Morehead State, but have not had the opportunity to match up against APSU since last year’s 76-73 overtime thriller in the tournament’s opening round.
“I think that they are a rhythm basketball team,” Midlick said. “They come down in their patterns and how they move the basketball, you have to do some things to disrupt it. It’s easier said than done on a zoom call than when we get out on the court on Wednesday, but we can’t let them get into a rhythm of what they like to do.”
If the coach and company manage to push past Belmont in the first round, they would then be welcomed by the winner of Southeast Missouri and Mu**ay State. The Governors swept the rival Racers in the regular season by a combined seven points.
SEMO could prove itself to be an issue to any APSU potential run in the tourney. The Redhawks come into the postseason splitting their last six games, but have won five of the last six contests against the Govs. They needed an extra period to defeat APSU in their latest match, a 73-68 overtime win in Clarksville.
Star guard Tesia Thompson has been out for the Redhawks since Feb. 20. Thompson has averaged 21.3 points against the Governors across her career and put up a season-high 33 in the two teams’ first meeting this year.
From there, the most likely opponents to be faced are Jacksonville State or top ranked UT Martin in the championship round. The Gamecocks split the two-game series with the Govs this season and won their regular season finale by 16.
UTM has only lost two games in conference and is spearheaded offensively by the reigning conference player of the year, Chelsey Perry. Similarly to SEMO, UTM has also been without its top player to close out the season due to a hip injury.
The potential lack of star power for SEMO and UT Martin may benefit the Govs’ confidence in the final two rounds. But first, Midlick and his quintet of seniors must break free from their ever-elusive first round woes.
“Honestly, I haven’t looked past the first round and, on our team, you have to play who’s healthy,” he said. “Whether we’ve had COVID issues or injuries, you have to play the team that’s in front of you whether they’re missing someone or not. But you hate to see any team not be at full strength when it’s tournament time. Really, all our attention has just been on our game for Wednesday.”