Austin Peay defeated Southeast for the 11th straight time
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- All it apparently took to cure Austin Peay's woes was the presence of Southeast Missouri State University.
The Governors, who lost four starters from last year's team that won its second straight Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title, limped into Thursday's league opener with a 2-10 record, albeit against a rugged schedule.
Austin Peay may or may not contend for another OVC championship, but on this night at least all was well with the Govs as they beat visiting Southeast for the 11th straight time, 60-50.
Southeast, which never led or was even tied, fell to 5-7 overall in dropping its first conference game. Southeast has not beaten Austin Peay since the 1999-2000 season.
"When they beat you 11 times in a row, it really puts a bad taste in your mouth," Southeast coach Gary Garner said. "But they're so good at home, and they'll always be tough to beat here."
Said Austin Peay junior center Zac Schlader: "We've had a tough run in nonconference, but we said we're starting 0-0, and it's anybody's game now."
It was definitely Schlader's game Thursday. The 6-foot-9, 220-pounder took advantage of Southeast's smaller inside players to score a career-high 25 points. He hit 11 of 16 shots from the field, most of them in close to the basket, although he did also pop a couple 15-footers.
"I just happened to be able to get to the basket," said Schlader, who also grabbed nine rebounds, including five offensive boards -- which was one less than Southeast's entire team.
Austin Peay held a 13-6 offensive rebounding edge, leading to an overall 34-28 advantage on the boards.
"As far as any one player, I probably feared him the most just because we're not very big and strong," Garner said. "He looked like a pro tonight. We just didn't have an answer for him."
Schlader, a reserve last year, entered the contest averaging 11.6 points per game as a starter this season.
"He's big and seals real well," said Southeast senior forward Reggie Golson, who guarded Schlader much of the night. "It's hard to get around him in the post. He uses his body real well."
Golson, who barely packs 200 pounds on his 6-7 frame, hit eight of 14 shots and led Southeast with 18 points, along with nine rebounds and three blocks.
Fellow senior forward Dainmon Gonner, a 6-6, 230-pounder, added 16 points. But the rest of Southeast's players combined for just 16 points.
Southeast was hurt by shooting just 42.9 percent from the field and making only one of seven 3-pointers, along with committing 20 turnovers.
"It's a typical Austin Peay team in that they're very good defensively," Garner said.
About the worst thing that could have happened to Southeast did when the squad got off to a slow start, falling behind 8-0 in the game's opening four minutes.
Southeast trailed by 12 points late in the first half and was behind 27-18 at the intermission.
Although Southeast made one solid second-half run, Austin Peay stayed in control the entire final period.
Trailing 40-29 midway through the half, Southeast scored seven straight points with Gonner's three-point play making it 40-36 with 7:25 remaining.
But the Govs answered with an 8-2 run, capped by guard Maurice Hampton's 15-footer that made it 48-38 with five minutes left. Southeast got no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"It's hard to get down like that and beat a really good defensive team," Golson said. "They kind of punched us in the mouth early and we couldn't overcome it."
Southeast shot just 38.1 percent in the first half before improving to 47.6 percent in the second half, but the early deficit was just too much to overcome.
"We didn't play as well as we could have, but if we don't turn the ball over and make a few shots in the first half, we'd have had a chance to win," Garner said.
Austin Peay finished shooting 44.8 percent and made just one of nine 3-pointers, but the Govs committed only 13 turnovers.
Southeast completes its two-game road trip Saturday night at Tennessee Tech.
AUSTIN PEAY 60, SOUTHEAST 50
Shooting percentages: FG: Southeast .429, Austin Peay .448. 3-Point FG: Southeast .143, Austin Peay .111. FT: Southeast .813, Austin Peay .636. Assists: Southeast 7 (Hale, Paradoski 3), Austin Peay 14 (Hampton 4). Turnovers: Southeast 20, Austin Peay 13. Technical Fouls: None. Officials: Nance, Correll, Fitzgerald. A - 2,895.