Tech gets late lead but can't hold on, falls to Austin Peay Govs, 86-80

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With just two weeks remaining in the regular season schedule, Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay were each looking to build some momentum for the home stretch when they tangled Monday night in Eblen Center.

Tech trailed most of the game but scrambled back to take a lead with under six minutes remaining, only to see the Govs recover and stay within shouting distance of the league lead with an 86-80 victory.

Four Govs scored in double figures, led by Drake Reed with 24 and Kyle Duncan with 23. Wes Channels added 18 and Anthony Campbell 10 as Austin Peay shot 54.5 percent from the field.

Tech had three players in double digits, topped by Daniel Northern’s double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Murphy scored 16 and Elijah Muhammad added 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Austin Peay improved to 14-10 overall and 10-4 in the OVC, just a half-game behind league-leading Morehead State. The Golden Eagles, who lost their third consecutive home game, saw their record dip to 11-13 overall and 5-9 within the conference, a half-game ahead of Tennessee State for eighth place.

Tech hits the road this week to play at fifth place Murray State on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and second place UT Martin Saturday at 6 p.m.

It was another slow start for Tech, which managed just 13 points in the first 11 minutes, falling behind 23-11 as the Govs found the early range. The Govs hit 62 percent while Tech connected on 27.3 percent during that stretch. Included in Austin Peay’s early surge were seven points by Channels.

Tech finally got untracked, and the Golden Eagles assembled a 9-0 run that cut the Govs’ margin to three, 23-20. The difference bounced between three and five points, before APSU got two free throws from Drake Reed wit 2:52 remaining to go up eight, 38-30.

Austin Peay went to halftime up by seven points, 40-33.

Midway through the second half Tech outscored the Govs 12-4 over a three-minute span and tied the score, 63-63, in a jumper by Northern. A minute later, Northern’s off-balance layup gave Tech its first lead of the game at 66-65 with 6:31 to play. A 3-pointer by Muhammad at 6:01 made it 69-65 for Tech’s largest lead of the contest.

The Govs recovered quickly, knotting the game at 69-69 on layups by Duncan and Channels, then got a layup by Reed for a 71-69 lead. Tech tied the game twice more, first on a basket by Murphy, then on a layup by Zach Bailey to make it 73-73 with 2:04 remaining

Reed hit a pair of charity tosses with 1:51 left to put APSU on top, 75-73, and Duncan drained a crucial 3-pointer a minute later for a five-point edge. The Gov lead went to seven, before Northern brought Tech back to within two, 80-78, with 30 seconds left.

The Govs made six straight free throws and Tech missed three consecutive 3-pointers, and the margin jumped back to eight, 86-78, before Murphy’s layup provided the final score.

Austin Peay improved to 12-4 when leading at halftime. Tech, meanwhile, fell to 1-12 when trailing at the mid-point.