Beating Belmont at home is one thing. Beating them on the road is an entirely different task.
After Austin Peay State got their first-ever OVC regular-season win against the Bruins on Jan. 25, they reciprocated the I-24 trip on Saturday down to Nashville. The home court advantage yet again proved advantageous, with Belmont claiming a 71-63 victory.
The Governors were kept in the game thanks in part to another monstrous night by Terry Taylor, who set a new career high in rebounds with 23 and recorded his first career 20-20 game, scoring 26 points in the process.
Unfortunately for the Govs, the offense struggled outside of their star. Antwuan Butler posted 11 points with three triples, but he was the only other player to reach double digits.
Taylor and Butler shot a combined 15-for-27, but the rest of the team hit at just a 30.3 percent clip.
“In these last two games we have not played offense well at all on the road. We’ve got to be better offensively. That killed us down the stretch. Missing free throws, that’s the second game we missed free throws. We didn’t get there very much, we had 14 offensive rebounds, 21 put-back points, we didn’t get there very much. That’s a big discrepancy.”
By far the most crucial stretch of the game came with eight minutes left in the game.
Taylor’s second three-pointer of the night cut the lead to two points after having scored nine of the team’s last 11 points. On their next possession, Jordyn Adams appeared to have tied the game with a chance to take the lead with an ensuing free throw but was called for a charge.
The Governors were unable to score for the next three minutes, and in that time the Bruins had built their lead back up to seven.
After a missed Butler jumper, Taylor secured the offensive rebound and went to get a second-chance bucket but appeared to have been hit hard, but no foul was called.
Figger became visibly furious and was called for a technical foul, shedding himself of his sport coat and tie in the process.
The Bruins were awarded – and converted upon – two free throws in the process, and what was once a two-point game was back to nine.
“I’m tired of my guys not protecting my guys,” Figger said. “I’m going to protect my guys. I’m going to protect my guys every single time. I’m going to protect them until the end. I didn’t like the way things were going.”
Austin Peay was unable to get within five the rest of the way.
“When we got it to two, we (were) feeling real good,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s all amped, then when he got that technical, we still thought we had a chance to get the game, but we knew we (were) going to have to fight more. We kept our spirits up. We’re always going to fight no matter what.”
Now on a two-game losing streak, the recently 10-0 Governors find themselves in the thick of an OVC race that was theirs for the taking going into the previous week.
They’ll have to recover quickly if they want to stay at the top. 11-1 Murray State will come to Clarksville on Thursday with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Belmont (71): Adam Kunkel 19, Caleb Hollander 14, Grayson Murphy 12, Tyler Scanlon 10, Nick Muszynski 8, Tate Pierson 5, Michael Benkert 2, Ben Sheppard 1.
Austin Peay (63): Terry Taylor 26, Antwuan Butler 11, Jordyn Adams 9, Eli Abaev 6, Carlos Paez 4, Alec Woodard 3, Evan Hinson 2, Sita Conteh 2.