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CHAMPIONS! Lady Govs claim OVC tournament title

March 8, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay women's basketball team claimed its third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference tournament title - and fourth overall - with an 85-61 victory over second-seed Southeast Missouri, Saturday afternoon. The win was the Lady Govs 22nd consecutive victory, breaking the OVC's 28-year old record. Additionally, the 24-point margin of victory was the second largest margin of victory in tournament history.
March 8, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay women's basketball team claimed its third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference tournament title - and fourth overall - with an 85-61 victory over second-seed Southeast Missouri, Saturday afternoon. The win was the Lady Govs 22nd consecutive victory, breaking the OVC's 28-year old record. Additionally, the 24-point margin of victory was the second largest margin of victory in tournament history.

Austin Peay improves to 27-3 overall and wins the OVC's automatic berth into the NCAA women's basketball tournament. Southeast Missouri's season ends at 19-11 overall.

The first half did not give any indication of the outcome as the Otahkians stayed close to the Lady Govs throughout the half. Austin Peay enjoyed one double-digit lead, a 10-point margin, 24-14, with 6:37 remaining. However, Southeast Missouri stormed back with a 11-2 run to cut the lead to 26-25 with 2:14 remaining. Austin Peay would remain in control, closing the half with a 6-0 run to take a 32-25 lead into halftime.

Brooke Armistead kept the Lady Govs steady as a rock throughout the first half, scoring 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Austin Peay was winning the rebounding battle, 16-13, at the break but was losing the turnover batte, 11-10.

Austin Peay opened the second half with a 6-0 run to build a double-digit lead, 37-25, with 18:36 remaining. Southeast Missouri would get back within seven, 46-39, with 11:15 remaining. Then, with 10:04 remaining in the game a wild series of events unfolded that changed the game's character.

Armistead went to the free throw line after being fouled with 10:04 remaining. She missed the second half of a two-shot free throw award. Gerlonda Hardin won the ensuing battle on the boards and scored the basket to put the Lady Govs up 49-39 with 10:03 left. As Southeast Missouri brought the ball back up the court head coach B.J. Smith was assessed a technical foul. Armistead made both of the free-throws. Then as SEMO was preparing to inbound the ball to restart play, Smith was assessed his second technical foul and was ejected from the contest. Armistead made both of those free-throws, extending the Lady Govs lead to a then game-high 14 points, 53-39, with 9:53 remaining.

Southeast Missouri would get no closer than 12 points and that was a 57-45 deficit with 8:01 remaining. The Lady Govs put together a 14-4 run to build a 22-point lead, 71-49, with 4:23 left and would not look back the rest of the way.

Armistead finished with a game-high 27 points. She was one of four Lady Govs in double-figures. Gerlonda Hardin recorded her season's 13th double-double, a 22-point, 12-rebound effort. Ashley Haynes and Paige Smith each added 11 points.

Kenja White scored 19 points to lead Southeast Missouri. Carina Souza (12) and Lori Chase (11) were the only other Otahkians in double figures.

Austin Peay won the rebounding battle, 40-31, including a 15-11 advantage on the offensive glass. The Lady Govs outscored the Otahkians, 19-6, in second chance points. APSU also shot 49.2 percent (30-61) from the field out pacing SEMO's 38.9 percent (21-of-54) effort.

The 2003 OVC All-Tournament squad was announced following the championship game. Brooke Armistead was named to the all-tournament team for the fourth consecutive year and earned the tournament's "Most Valuable Player" award for the second time. Paige Smith and Gerlonda Hardin also received recognition on the all-tournament squad, both receiving mention for the third time. Tennessee Tech's Emily Christian and Southeast Missouri's Lori Chase and Kenja White also received all-tournament accolades.

The Lady Govs now prepare for their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, which starts March 22 at 16 predetermined first round sites. The NCAA tournament pairings will be announced Sunday, March 16.