Otahks Couldn't Pull Off Upset In OVC Tourney Semifinals
March 5, 2004
Nashville, Tenn. - In OVC women's hoops semifinal tournament action at the Municipal Auditorium this afternoon, Southeast Missouri State put up a fierce battle against OVC regular season champion, Austin Peay, but couldn't overturn the reigning tournament champions. The contest featured six lead changes and three ties, but Peay took advantage of late turnovers and missed shots by the Otahks to close the final 6:43 with an 18-5 run. Southeast fell 72-55 to close out the 2003-04 season, 16-13 overall.
APSU jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead to open the game and then 19-8 after OVC Player of the Year Gerlonda Hardin banked in a lay-up with 13:41 to play in the first. Southeast came back to mount a 13-5 run over the final six minutes of the half, to cut the APSU lead to a slim two-point margin at the intermission, 30-28.
Southeast fell into a shooting drought, shooting just 32.4 percent from the floor in the half, while APSU enjoyed 52 percent shooting. Outstanding, full-court pressure defense and quick Otahkians hands, from the OVC's leading turnover margin squad, held the game within two at the half as they forced 15 Lady Gov first half turnovers and stole nine passes.
APSU hit the first bucket of the second half, but Southeast put together a 6-0 rally from the four-point deficit to claim a 34-32 advantage with 18:45 on the clock. The run featured three lay-ups in the paint from Southeast seniors Carina Souza, Kenja White and Yashika Sidbury.
The squad's traded baskets for the next several minutes with Southeast battling back to post another 2-point lead with 15:50 remaining, 39-37. Freshman point-guard Jessica Aebi sank the trey from the top of the key for the lead, but Hardin answered right back for Peay scoring on a lay-up with 13:45 left to tie the game at 39 all.
Hardin sparked an 11-2 Lady Gov run over the next three minutes to push the lead to 50-41. White and the Otahks made one final run posting a 5-point gain on APSU over the next three minutes. The run featured seven points by White, two steals by senior point-guard Sarah Costello and a trey by Brandi Russia to slash the game back down to a four-point deficit, 54-50, with 6:43 clicking off the clock.
Southeast couldn't get their shots to fall as Peay scored 12 straight to push the lead to 16 points at 66-50 with 3:25 left to seal the victory.
The Otahks closed the game being out shot 57.7 percent to 32.8 percent from the floor, while neither squad shot well from the free throw line. Southeast shot 55.6 percent, while the Lady Govs hit 66.7 percent.
Costello and the Otahkians continued to haunt the Lady Govs on defense in the second half, recording sixteen steals and forcing 25 turnovers on the afternoon. The league's second leading theft and top helper, Sarah Costello, finished the game and her career with six steals and six assists versus APSU. She closes her two-year career with 241 career assists, 10th all-time in school history. Her 144 assists this season rank her sixth all-time on a season at Southeast.
White finished out her career almost single-handedly leading the squad this afternoon in scoring with 20 points. Brown netted another 12, while Aebi was the next highest with six.
Hardin finished with a game-high 26 points and 10 boards, recording her 12th double-double of the season. Jessica Grayson closed with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Kera Bergeron tossed in 10 points.
Austin Peay (21-8) advances to face Eastern Kentucky (15-14) in the OVC tournament championship tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.