Analysis: Men’s basketball struggled against resurging Austin Peay

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

EVANSVILLE,IND- Easterns men’s basketball team dug themselves into a deep 19-2 hole to begin the first half against Austin Peay and failed to recover until late in the second half.

That and the Governors keying in on juniors Mack Smith and Josiah Wallace helped them win 76-65 in a game that the Governors’ never stepped off the gas.

The Governors advanced to the semifinal and they will face Murray State.

“That’s a big deal when it jumps out like that,” Eastern head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “It puts you in a tough spot, because anytime you’re coming back from a hard game you need some shots to go in. You don’t want to dig a hole, because it’s hard to come back.

The Panthers complete their third winning season in 20 years. The Panthers finished the season 17-15 overall and came into the Austin Peay game with a five-game winning streak.

“I think it gave us a lot of fire as a team and a lot of momentum coming in,” senior Shareef Smith said. “I think we were really hyped up, the first game we played really good and the second game we came out flat footed and we needed some shots to go in, but it just didn’t go our way.”

The Panthers’ began the first five minutes of the game down 19-2. The Panthers failed to make layups, three-pointers or any shot to begin the game. The offense had trouble the whole game with movement, which Spoonhour addressed after the game, that movement and making shots were crucial to the offense.

The Panthers were getting good looks, but they were committing turnovers and feeding the Governor offense. The Governors used their OVC leading scorer (Terry Taylor) to their advantage as he scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and went 5-of-7 from the field in the first half.

Austin Peay freshman Jordyn Adams was efficient also in the first half. The second-leading freshman scorer in the NCAA scored 10 points including contested midrange shots. The Governors led the Panthers 42-19 to end the first half.

The Panthers aimed to switch to a zone defense late in the first half and to begin the second half. The zone proved to work in the first half, but the Governors adjusted. Taylor came out firing, making two straight three-pointers and scoring 10 straight points for the Governors.

The Panthers’ leading scorers Wallace and Smith each scored 11 points. Smith preserved his streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer made as it is now at 81 games.

Wallace scored only two points in the first half, but tried to go back to late-game heroics and scored 11 points including tough mid-range shots. Adams drew the assignment of guarding Wallace and stuck to him, and Spoonhour stated his knowledge of Adams as a great defensive presence.

The Governors had two guys defensively focused on Wallace and Smith. The players were not able to free themselves up causing mass disruption to the Panthers’ offense.

The Panthers’ offense relies on the three-point shot. The Panthers shot 18.2 percent from the three-point line against the Governors. Along with that the Panthers shot 50 percent from the free-throw line and 41.3 percent from the field.

The Governors shot above 50% from the field in every category. The Governors executed their scoring opportunities while the Panthers had offensive struggles until late in the second half.


Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]