CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay used a 28-9 run to end the first half to pull away from SIUE and cruise to a 78-58 win Thursday in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both teams.
The Cougars fell to 4-8 overall and 0-1 in the OVC. Austin Peay improved to 6-7 and 1-0.
"They played harder," SIUE Head Coach Jon Harris said. "There's nothing complicated about it. They made all the effort plays in the first half and we dug ourselves too deep of a hole."
Despite playing without starters Jalen Henry and David McFarland, SIUE got off to a hot start, hitting its first four shots of the game to lead 8-3. After a three-pointer from Daniel Kinchen with 9:39 left in the half, the Cougars' lead was 17-14. From there Austin Peay, went on its run.
"Guys probably came in feeling a little sorry for themselves without Jalen and without David and that showed in our effort plays," Harris said.
Henry missed the contest with an ankle injury. Travel issues kept McFarland from returning from Christmas break on time.
The Governors had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and 17 for the game, which led to 22 second chance points.
"That's the difference in the game," Harris said. "You can't give that kind of team those chances. They hurt you on the glass and they hurt you with turnovers. We did a pretty good job with our ball control; 13 is not a horrible number, but the backboard was the difference in the game. And they outscored us on free throws and that's how you win games."
APSU was 15-22 (68.2 percent) at the foul line. The Cougars were 9-13 (69.2 percent).
SIUE shot 36.7 percent (22-60) from the field and hit just 5-20 from three-point range.
Justin Benton led the Cougars with 14 points, one shy of his career high. He grabbed six rebounds to tie for the team lead. Brandon Jackson was the only other SIUE player in double figures with 10 points. Christian Ellis and D.J. Jackson also collected six rebounds apiece. The six boards were a career high for D.J. Jackson.
The Governors connected on 48.3 percent (29-60) of their shots. Averyl Ugba (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Terry Taylor (19, 11) turned in double-doubles to lead Austin Peay.
The Cougars return to game action Saturday with a 7 p.m. game at Murray State.
"Murray outworks people, that's who they are," Harris added. "It's really a mental shift. Mentally, we have to go into the game and play more aggressive and more assertive, especially on the defensive end of the floor."