By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels (17-8, 11-3 OVC) pulled away late for a 69-55 win over Austin Peay (7-19, 2-12 OVC) Saturday to send their five seniors out on a high note in their home finale.
The win was the ninth in a row at home for the Lady Colonels, who finish with a 13-1 record in McBrayer Arena, with the lone loss coming to SIUE on Jan. 5.
The game was extremely tight most of the way with 16 lead changes and six ties before the Lady Colonels went on an 11-2 run to grab a seven-point lead with just less than nine minutes to go.
After a basket by Meghan Bussabarger, the Lady Colonels scored 14 of the next 20 points to pull ahead by 14 points with a little more than four minutes to go and never let the Lady Governors get any closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
A big reason for the win was the way Alex Jones, LaRa’e Allen, Shelly Harper and Miranda Maples completely dominated the backboards, especially on the offensive end, helping EKU to a 54-40 rebounding edge.
Jones had a monster game on the glass pulling down a career-high 21 rebounds (11 offensive) while Allen had seven (three offensive), Harper had eight (five offensive) and Maples finished with four, two of which were offensive rebounds.
With her fifth rebound of the game, Jones moved into second place on the EKU career rebounds list with 977. She now needs only seven rebounds to become only the second Lady Colonel player to every have 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
The Lady Colonels’ foursome also held Bussabarger, Austin Peay’s leading scorer and rebounder, to only five rebounds.
“Bussabarger is a tough player with an all-around game who is capable of putting up some big numbers, so keeping her off the board was big,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “I was proud of how we were able to control the boards. Twenty three offensive rebounds is just making a commitment and going and getting them. Alex had 11, you had Shelly coming off the bench and getting five, LaRa’e with three. That’s huge.”
The Lady Colonels struggled a little in the first half against the Lady Govs’ 2-3 zone, Roberts said, but they had more success finding the seams and getting open shots in the second half, which lead to the decisive run.
“Early on, our shots weren’t falling. A lot of times when teams play zone it forces you to play around the perimeter. But there are a lot of gaps and seams and we talked about being aggressive and attacking those seams,” Roberts said. “The second half when we made our run, that’s what we did. I think when Pilar came in she was aggressive getting into the gaps of the zone and making some plays. That was the difference.”
Jones joined junior Marie Carpenter scoring 16 points each to lead a balanced Lady Colonel scoring attack.
Brittany Coles finished with eight points, Raechelle Gray had seven points and six assists, Maples had six points to go along with her four rebounds, Walker had five points, two rebounds and five assists off the bench, Allen chipped in four points, Jalisa Bryant had three points and Shelly Harper and Jasmine Henshaw had two points each.
The Lady Colonels are atop the OVC East Division standings, one game ahead of Belmont and Tennessee Tech with two games remaining.
EKU has a rematch with Tech in Cookville on Thursday then finish the regular season against Tennessee State in Nashville.
Coles said the Lady Colonels aren’t looking ahead to the OVC Tournament just yet because they still have a lot of work to do get what they want, which is the double bye awarded to the top team in the standings.