NASHVILLE, Tenn. -Jacksonville State rallied from a six-point deficit in the final five minutes to defeat Austin Peay State University, 75-70, in opening-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament action.
The Governors season ended at 12-20, APSU's first 20-loss season since 1992-93. Jacksonville State improves to 15-17 and will face Morehead State, 8 p.m., Thursday in OVC quarterfinal action.
The Govs season ended in a thud reminiscent to so many losses this season. The Governors played perhaps their season's best half of basketball in the opening half, rallying to take a 39-31 halftime lead after shooting 59 percent from the floor with TyShwan Edmondson scoring 19 points.
But poor free-throw shooting and turnovers led to the Govs undoing in the second half. In fact, the Govs eight-point lead was gone less than five minutes into the second half. From there it remained close much of the half's remainder.
Anytime the Govs would build any type of margin, the Gamecocks and Brian Williams would reel them in. Williams, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored 18 in the second, turning APSU mistakes into layups.
The Govs finally pulled away to a six-point lead after an Edmondson three pointer-his only bucket of the second half-and a Fraley dunk. It was still a six-point lead after a Melvin Baker jumper with 4:59 remaining. But things began to unravel for the Govs.
Jacksonville State instituted a half-court trap and the Governors proceeded to commit turnovers in in two of the next three possessions. When Nick Cook scored a on layup with 2:46 left, it was a one-point Govs lead, 68-67.
Melvin Baker nailed a pair of free throws to push it back to a three-point game with 1:47 remaining.
But Jacksonville State then crashed the offensive boards-they had 16 offensive rebounds on the night-on its next two possessions. The first saw Ronnie Boggs grab Darion Rackley miss to make it a one-point game again, 70-69, with 1:19 remaining.
Another Austin Peay turnover gave Jacksonville State the ball with a chance to take the lead. They did after scrambling for two offensive rebounds. After Boggs grabbed the second one, he found Williams on the right wing. He stroked a three-pointer to give JSU the lead, 72-70, with 33 seconds left.
Josh Terry drove the right baseline and was whistled for a charge-the Govs fifth turnover in less tha four minutes. As a result, the Govs were forced to foul. Boggs made the first free throw, but missed the second, providing APSU one last chance to tie.
However, Edmondson missed a three pointer with 12 seconds left and Williams ended the comeback with another layup, sealing the victory.
Edmondson concluded his career with a game-high 22 points while Baker recorded a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Center John Fraley added 10 points.
Rackley scored 16 points off the bench for JSU while Tarvin Gaines added 12.
The Govs shot an impressive 52.9 percent (27 of 51) on the night, but the 17 turnovers and 11-of-20 free-throw shooting night helped offset that edge.
Wednesday's game was the final one for seniors Edmondson, Baker, Fraley and Josh Terry.