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Lady Govs upset bid falls short

March 24, 2003

BOULDER, Colo. - It wasn't supposed to be this close. Fourteen seeds just don't stay close to No. 3 seeds for 40 minutes, attract national attention and in the end put forth a bid to pull off the upset. However, the Austin Peay women's basketball team did just that and more in its 72-70 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament's first round.
March 24, 2003

BOULDER, Colo. - It wasn't supposed to be this close. Fourteen seeds just don't stay close to No. 3 seeds for 40 minutes, attract national attention and in the end put forth a bid to pull off the upset. However, the Austin Peay women's basketball team did just that and more in its 72-70 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament's first round.

The loss ended the Lady Govs season as they finish with a school-record 27-4 mark. It also ended their Ohio Valley Conference and school-record 22-game winning streak, the nation's second-longest streak entering the tournament. The No. 12 ranked Tar Heels improve to 28-5 and advanced to the Mideast Regional's second-round where they will meet host and No. 6 seed Colorado, Monday.

It was a game featuring nine lead changes and 11 ties and ultimately came inches away from going into overtime. Senior Brooke Armistead's last-second attempt hit the front of the rim and fell harmlessly away as the final horn sounded with North Carolina barely walking away with the victory.

The second half can be boiled down to two scoring runs, one by each team, and a final flurry of baskets that led to Armistead's final attempt. The Lady Govs entered the second period down three, but opened with a 16-7 run to take a six-point lead, 45-39, with 14:22 remaining. Armistead sparked that run, scoring 10 points, including back-to-back three pointers.

The Tar Heels stormed back using a 17-3 scoring run to take the game's largest lead, an eight-point margin, 56-48, with 9:41 left. That scoring run ended with a missed free throw by Nikita Bell, which the Tar Heels rebounded and Leah Metcalf converted into a three-point basket.

Austin Peay fought back to within one possession as Armistead again hit back-to-back three point baskets to pull APSU within two points, 57-55, with 7:12 on the clock. An Ashley Haynes jumper tied the game 66-66 with 2:51 left. The two teams then traded two-shot fouls. Chrystal Baptist made both of hers to give UNC a two-point advantage before Armistead evened the score with two free throws of her own. Then they traded jumpers, both teams' inside players doing the damage: Bell for UNC and Gerlonda Hardin for APSU. Bell hit her second consecutive jumper with 20 seconds remaining, giving North Carolina a two-point margin and providing the Lady Govs one more chance to tie the game. That attempt was all Armistead's as she took the ball at the top of the key and drove the lane on her way to the basket.

The first half started with both teams' perimeter players hitting three-point shots: APSU's Cassandra Peek opened the game with a three-pointer from the baseline while Coretta Brown evened the score with a shot from the corner. The Lady Govs took advantage of eight first-half turnovers, scoring 14 points. However, the two teams were tied six times and traded the lead seven times during the period. The half's largest lead was a five-point advantage held by UNC, when they led 26-21 with 2:05 remaining. The Lady Govs outscored the Tar Heels 8-6 to end the half with UNC holding a 32-29 advantage.

Armistead finished with a game-high 30 points, an Austin Peay school record in NCAA tournament play. Her six three-point field goals was a top-five effort in the Mideast Regional. After scoring just five points in the opening half, she went 8-of-10 from the field in the second half, including 5-of-5 from three-point range. She finished her Austin Peay career with 2,508 points, only the second player in Ohio Valley Conference history to surpass 2,500 career points. She also is only the 30th player in NCAA women's basketball history to reach the 2,500-point plateau.

Hardin recorded her season's 14th double-double, a 16-point, 10-rebound effort, despite playing against players with a three-to-four-inch height advantage. Haynes added an 11-point, eight-rebound performance and Peek chipped in eight points. Jessica Grayson came off the bench to score five points and Missy Booker joined her off the bench, grabbing four rebounds. Senior Paige Smith had a quiet night scoring-wise but had five assists.

Austin Peay out-shot North Carolina, 43.3 percent (26-of-60) to 38.5 (25-of-65). However they could not overcome the Tar Heels advantage at the free throw line where they made 17-of-24 compared to the Lady Govs 10-of-15 effort. UNC also held a sizeable rebounding advantage, grabbing 49 rebounds, including 25 off the offensive glass, while APSU managed just 32 rebounds.

Brown, a senior, led the Tar Heels with 20 points, including a four-of-seven effort from three-point range. Bell added 14 points in the winning effort. La'Tangela Atkinson led UNC's rebounding effort with 12 rebounds while Baptist grabbed 11 rebounds, all off the offensive glass.