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Govs win first OVC tournament title since 1996; Lewis named MVP

March 4, 2003

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.--Corey Gipson nailed a three-point shot with 0.9 seconds left, Tuesday night, as Austin Peay State University rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat Eastern Kentucky, 83- 80, in first-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament action.

The win advances the Govs to the tourney semifinals, 6 p.m., Friday, at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville against fourth-seeded Murray State, a team the Govs have twice beaten this year. Third-seed Tennessee Tech and second-seed Morehead State will meet in the other semifinal.
March 4, 2003

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.--Corey Gipson nailed a three-point shot with 0.9 seconds left, Tuesday night, as Austin Peay State University rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat Eastern Kentucky, 83- 80, in first-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament action.

The win advances the Govs to the tourney semifinals, 6 p.m., Friday, at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville against fourth-seeded Murray State, a team the Govs have twice beaten this year. Third-seed Tennessee Tech and second-seed Morehead State will meet in the other semifinal.

“Eastern Kentucky came in here ready to battle and they did just that,” APSU coach Dave Loos said. “I tip my hat to them. They came to play, no questions about that. But our players dug in and battled back.

“At this point in the season, it's about survival. We didn't play our best basketball and we were able to win.”

Barely. The Govs almost became the first OVC tourney top seed in league history not to advance to the semifinals. They found themselves down for much of the game as EKU knifed through the league's top defense, specially in the first half. In fact, the Govs never led in the first 20 minutes and trailed by as many as 11 points on four occasions. APSU permitted EKU 63 percent (17 of 27) shooting in the half and couldn't match it. The Govs trailed by nine, 45-36, at halftime.

The Govs came storming out in the second half but each time they got close, Eastern Kentucky would respond. At the 11:34 mark, for instance, the Govs cut it to on, 55-54 before the Colonels pushed it out to seven again at 9:59 mark.

An 12-0 run, including three pointers by Corey Gipson and Anthony Davis brought the Govs back. Another Gipson bucket gave APSU the lead before consecutive Adrian Henning buckets gave APSU a five-point lead, 66-61. The Govs seemingly had the momentum.

But Matt Witt brought the Colonels back, knocking down jumper after jumper. The Colonels tied it, 69-69 with 3:47 left. The two teams traded buckets until APSU ran off six straight points, four by Adrian Henning plus a key rebound basketball by freshman Zac Schlader with 1:11 left.

But EKU hung in as they kept scoring as then fouling APSU on its respective possessions.

The Govs missed enough free throws down the stretch that it opened the door. With seven seconds left, the Colonels Ben Rushing knocked down a three pointer to tie the game 80-80.

APSU elected not to call time-out and Gipson brought the ball past midcourt and veer left. He let his three-point shot fly and it hit nothing but netreminiscent of his game-winner earlier this season against Murray State.

Gipson scored a career-high 22 points, matching teammate Adrian Henning, who also had 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double.

Witt led EKU with 22 while Jon Bentley added 16. The victory pushes APSU to 21-7 on the season while EKU closes out at 11-17. The victory set a Dunn Center mark for home wins (14), breaking the marks set by the 1975-76 (13-0), 1976-77 teams (13-1).

“This team has a lot of character and determination,” Loos said. “I am proud of this team. They way they fought back on a night when it seemed it wasn't there night.”