NASHVILLE–Austin Peay punched its ticket into the NCAA tournament with a 62-59 double-overtime victory against Eastern Illinois in the Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Championship game Saturday night at the Sommet Center.
Entering the second overtime, the Governors jumped to a 66-56 lead in just under four minutes of action. The Panthers cut the deficit down to four with seven seconds remaining, but couldn’t close the deal
“We got down and the needle was on E,” Eastern Illinois head coach Brady Sallee said.
Austin Peay was led by sophomore Ashley Herring, who scored a team-high 21 points. Freshman Emily Pollock added a career-high 13 points for the Lady Govs.
“It was just adrenaline flowing through me,” Pollock said. “I think we all thought we could do it.”
As the fifth seed in the conference tournament, the Governors knocked off the top two teams in the conference to get their crown.
“Nobody thought we’d be here,” senior April Thomas said, who scored 13 points. “We had confidence. We knew it was going to be hard, but we fought.”
Although the Panthers’ NCAA tournament hopes are most likely over, there is a silver lining. Senior Rachel Galligan broke the program’s all-time scoring record (1,891 points), along with the single season scoring record (582 points)
The Governors (17-15) earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament via their conference tournament championship. As a mid-major, the Panthers’ (24-9) big dance hopes are all but over, but the team may still receive an invite to the National Invitational Tournament.