Playing for their post season lives, Austin Peay turned in its best free throw performance to defeat UT Martin 88-85.
Posting the second lowest free throw in the conference, the Governors shot 84 percent, including eight straight makes to defeat the Skyhawks on senior night. Combined with a career-high 32 points from guard Travis Betran, and a double-double by center Chris Horton the Govs were able to hold on against a pesky Skyhawk team.
Playing for pride and potentially for their head coach’s job, UT Martin wasn’t able to sustain early momentum to pull out a win and eliminate the Govs. Despite 11 3-pointers, UT Martin just couldn’t contain the Governors inside.
With senior day on the mind of the Skyhawks, UT Martin erupted out of the gate. Playing all five of their seniors, the bench had life and it translated onto the floor. After a layup by guard Omari Minor gave the senior his first points of the season, the Skyhawks opened on a 11-0 run in the first five minutes of the game.
After a timeout by Head Coach Dave Loos, the Govs woke up as they scored nine straight points to pull within two points. Austin Peay completed the comeback and took its first lead midway through the first half as Horton scored under the rim. The Govs pushed their lead to six to lead 22-16 with eight minutes remaining in the half as Betran converted a three-point play.
UTM battled back thanks to back-to-back 3’s by Terence Smith to tie the game. The offense turned into a 3-point contest. Both teams combined for five 3-pointers to end the half tied at 38.
Horton carried the Governor offense in the first half with 14 points on 7-8 shooting while pulling down eight rebounds. Martin countered Austin Peay’s 24 paint points with 21 from behind the arc as Smith scored four in the first half.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Betran and Mike Liabo put the offense on their shoulders. Betran scored the Govs first eight points in the half while Liabo countered with 11 straight for the Skyhawks.
Trailing by three points, Austin Peay used a 9-2 run led by Betran once again to grab a 59-55 lead. It wouldn’t last long as the Skyhawks caught fire from Dee Oldham with back-to-back 3’s to give the Skyhawks the lead.
Austin Peay got two huge 3’s from Betran and Zavion Williams to give the Govs their largest lead of the night but once again the Skyhawks answered. Trailing 78-71, UTM drove to the basket and picked up free throws until a 3-pointer by Bobby Jones capped off the run to give the Skyhawks the lead.
Austin Peay turned to the free throw line for their final eight points to seal the win.