A late comeback bid by the Governors was not enough in Saturday’s 62-59 loss to the Eastern Illinois Panthers.
The Panthers took control of the game early behind an impressive opening quarter on both ends of the court, connecting on over 60% of their shots from the field and holding APSU to just 23% in the first.
After being held to eight points in the second period, the Govs found themselves down 13 heading into the half after making just one of 11 shots from beyond the arc.
On the heels of an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter, redshirt sophomore D’Shara Booker connected a layup to extend the run to a baker’s dozen– giving her team their first lead of the ballgame in the process.
The lead proved to be their first and only of the night, as EIU answered back with six straight points to retake the advantage.
The Panthers fended off any potential Govs’ comeback bid in the game’s final five minutes and came away with the three-point victory after a Shay-Lee Kirby shot at the buzzer was off target.
After a strong fourth quarter that saw the Govs outscore EIU 20-11 and nearly complete the double-digit comeback, head coach David Midlick said he saw a difference in intensity throughout the final frame.
“I think it was just effort and energy,” Midlick said. “I don’t think we really had it at the level it needs to be for three periods and we did in the fourth. We got some easy baskets, some easier baskets in transition, we made them scramble some in transition, we got to the basket and broke them down a little, but we didn’t do that in the first three.
“I think a lot of that was self-inflicted and I think they did that to us too. They had a lot of energy and they played really hard and they played well, but it’s mid to late February, you have got to be ready to take a team’s best effort.”
Following the contest, the team’s five seniors — Tahanee Bennell, Myah LeFlore, Kelen Kenol, Brianah Ferby and Brandi Ferby — were honored with flowers, a framed jersey and a video message from family and friends.
The senior class has combined for over 2,100 points, 404 games and nearly 7,000 minutes across their careers for the red and black.
With the exception of Bennell, who spent two years playing at the junior college level at the University of Northern Oklahoma at Tonkawa, all five of the team’s seniors have played their entire collegiate career under Midlick.
“They chose Austin Peay, they chose me and this coaching staff to have their college career,” Midlick said of his five seniors. “They’re five great, young ladies. They represent this program well, they represent their families well and this university well.
“As I have told them numerous times, I am there for them for life. I will always just be a phone call away and I just always appreciate their effort and sacrifice over the years.”
With the loss, the Governors currently sit at sixth in the conference with a trio of road games ahead. The team will travel to Richmond, Ky on Monday to take on the Colonels before wrapping up the regular season against Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State.