NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Caleb Brown scored a career-high 28 points to lead Austin Peay State University to a 76-60 victory, Thursday night, against stubborn Southeast Missouri in Ohio Valley Conference tournament quarterfinal action played at Municipal Auditorium.
The victory allows the No. 3 seed Governors to move into the OVC tourney semifinals against No. 2 seed Morehead State, 9 p.m., Friday. The two teams tied for second-place in the OVC regular season with respective 13-5 records. However, the Eagles gained two tourney byes as a result of tiebreakers.
No. 1 seed Murray State will play at 7 p.m. against No. 4 seed Tennessee Tech, an 83-59 winner against UT Martin also Thursday. Both semifinals games will be televised by ESPNU.
Brown, the Govs' only senior, played like someone who wants his final OVC tournament to be a memorable one. He connected on 9 of 11 floor shots along with another nine free throws to far exceed his previous career best of 20 points against Evansville, Nov. 15, 2008.
He scored 14 points in each half and seemingly his points came at the most opportune times for the Governors.
After feeding Will Triggs for a layup that resulted in a first-half three-point play. Brown scored eight points, capped by a three pointer, in a stretch that saw APSU go from trailing 17-16 to leading 27-20. APSU would take a 41-32 halftime advantage as Justin Blake nailed a three pointer from the top of the key to close the half.
But the Governors, who just beat SEMO, 75-52, last Saturday, could not shake the Redhawks in the second half. APSU quickly built a 48-36 advantage early in the final half. But SEMO chipped away at the lead and cut it to seven at 43-36 before Brown connected with a pair of layups, the second ending up being a three-point play to give APSU a 48-36 advantage.
The Redhawks, however, would not go away. Led by Anthony Allison and Marcus Brister, SEMO twice cut the deficit to six, 48-42 and 57-51, the second time with 7:18 left. APSU still led just 61-53 with less than five minutes left.
But the inside defense of John Fraley, who blocked a career-high seven shots, swatted away any Redhawk comeback chance as the Governors made nine free throws in the final 4:15 to finally pull away in the closing minutes.
The win allowed APSU to go to 20-12, the 14th time in school history the Governors have won 20 or more games. It also was the sixth time a Dave Loos-coached team has reached the 20-victory mark.
TyShwan Edmondson, who left the game with a knee injury right before halftime only to return in the second half, finished with 13 points while Josh Terry added 11. Terry also held SEMO leading scorer Marland Smith to just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Allison recorded a career-best 24 points for Southeast Missouri, which ended its season at 10-22. Brister added 13 points.