Eastern loses 76-65 to Austin Peay in the quarterfinals, season ends

Dillan Schorfheide, Sports Editor

It seemed like, from the tip, that Austin Peay had a clear vendetta against the Eastern men’s basketball team.

It seemed like the Governors took out all their anger of losing 83-80 to Eastern in Lantz Arena Feb. 22 Thursday night.

“That’s what I was just saying with some other people, I felt like it was a revenge game (for Austin Peay),” JaQualis Matlock said. “We’re probably one of the reasons we cost them the regular season title.” 

The third-seeded Governors jumped out to a 20-2 lead over six seed Eastern in the first eight minutes of the game and never looked back, defeating Eastern 76-65 in the quarterfinal round of the OVC Tournament Thursday.

A three-pointer?

An Austin Peay player made it.

A drive to the basket through contact?

Another Governor made it.

A fastbreak dunk that happened before every Eastern defender was back on defense?

Austin Peay easily made it.

Eastern had five clean three-point attempts in that time span when Austin Peay jumped out to a huge lead, but the Panthers could not make anything.

The crazy thing is, Austin Peay’s defense was good, but not so great that the Panthers could not get a shot off.

Eastern had good looks inside and out and just, quite simply, could not make anything.

OVC Player of the Year Terry Taylor, and OVC Freshman of the Year Jordyn Adams, led the way for Austin Peay, scoring 12 and 10 points in the first half, respectively.

Eastern defended them fairly well, but they just made tough shots that deflated Eastern’s spirit over and over again.

Eastern’s leading scorer after the first half was Jordan Skipper-Brown, who had six points. George Dixon and Mack Smith had five and four respectively, and Shareef Smith and Josiah Wallace had two points each. 

If Wednesday’s game turned out to be a revenge game for Austin Peay, it would be because when Eastern defeated Austin Peay Feb. 22, it knocked the Governors out of their solo first place spot into a tie for first place.

Eastern shot 9-of-31 from the floor in the first half, and 0-of-9 from three-point range.

“They guarded ball screens well, they switched on the motion stuff,” Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “We require movement in order to score points and we didn’t have any movement at all. 

The second half was a much better played game for Eastern, but even when Austin Peay took their foot off the gas pedal, they still made shots to keep a 20-point lead.

Josiah Wallace and Mack Smith got going offensively, and overall, Eastern played better, but it was too-little-too-late.

Had Eastern played the first half the way they performed in the second half, the story would be much different.

Eastern truly played leaps and bounds better in the second half, to the point where Austin Peay’s head coach, Matt Figger, got more upset with no-calls and bad plays from his team than he did in the first half.

The bright spots for Eastern were the play in the second half and the fact that in the second half, Mack Smith made a three-pointer to continue his streak to 81 straight games with a three-pointer made.

Austin Peay advances to play second-seeded Murray State in the semifinal Friday.

Dillan Schorfheide can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]