Bussabarger plays one close to home
Meghan Bussabarger, a former Corydon Central High School standout in volleyball, basketball and track and field, is now a junior captain for the Lady Govs at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn.
Bussabarger got a chance to play close to home last Wednesday afternoon as Austin Peay visited the KFC Yum! Center to take on the University of Louisville. It wasn’t the best of days for the Lady Govs and Bussabarger, however, as No. 11 Louisville pulled away in the second half to get a 78-60 win.
‘It was like having a home crowd again,’ said Bussabarger, who had a good contingent of family and friends at the game. ‘It felt real nice.’
Bussabarger admitted, however, that the Louisville arena was not her favorite venue.
‘I consider this at home and it’s nice to play at home,’ Bussabarger said with a smile, ‘but I still like some other gyms better, like Tennessee.’
The Cardinals were not so friendly, and Bussabarger had the tough assignment of guarding 6-4 center Cierra Warren. The play got physical at times with neither player willing to give up any ground under the basket like two WWE wrestlers in a title match.
‘It felt like one, too, trust me,’ Bussabarger said. ‘At Louisville, they do have some strong girls and (are) stronger than our girls but at least we didn’t give up. I’m glad our team didn’t give up.’
Bussabarger put in the first basket of the game with a three-ball from the left wing. The Lady Govs led through the first few minutes of the game until Becky Burke put in a deuce-and-one to give the Cardinals a 12-9 lead. Louisville’s lead ballooned to 18-11 until Shelby Olszewski drilled a 3 to pull Austin Peay back within four. Nicole Olszewski later hit a long deuce, closing the gap to two, 18-16.
As much as Louisville tried to pull away, Austin Peay stayed in the hunt, bouncing back from another seven-point deficit closing to two after Kristen Stainback tossed in another Lady Govs 3. After Louisville again went up by seven, Bussabarger hit a short jumper and Shyra Brown added a Lady Govs deuce, the Cardinal lead back to three, 32-29. Sara Hammond got the final bucket of the half for Louisville, and Austin Peay went to the locker room just five points down, 34-29.
Bussabarger said she did suffer a slight back injury in the first half in her match against Warren but wasn’t about to let that stop her from playing the game.
‘She was a bit bigger than me, but I pushed back just as hard,’ said Bussabarger, who hit the floor hard at the time the injury occurred. ‘I’m not going to let someone bigger than me try to outwork me and make me look smaller. Yes, I’m a smaller player but don’t underestimate smaller players. We work just as hard.’
Bussabarger drew her third foul just over four minutes into the second half and was forced to the bench. Austin Peay continued to stay in the game until Shoni Schimmel and Burke drilled back-to-back triples in a 8-0 run pushing Louisville’s lead to 57-43. From there, however, the game belonged to Louisville, which cruised on for the 78-60 win.
‘I am so happy with this team,’ Bussabarger said. ‘We don’t give up. We keep fighting. We keep coming back. Yes, we lost by 20 and it is a loss, but it was such a great opportunity to make ourselves better. That somewhere proves something. We’re not going to lie down.’
‘We were down by five with nine minutes left,’ Bussabarger said, ‘and just from there we made some turnovers at crucial points and that led to them getting a bigger lead.
‘My back’s killing me,’ said Bussabarger, who was also sporting a knee brace. ‘When I tried to take the charge both times, I landed straight on my back. I’ve had issues before … My knee is fine. I’m ready for that brace to come off. I’m so tired of wearing that brace. It happened during a practice. Jasmine (Rayner) stepped on my foot and my knee went the other way, and it was downhill from there.’
Stainback led Austin Peay (2-1) with 15 points, canning four 3-pointers. Bussabarger finished with seven points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in her 16 minutes of action. Austin Peay was just 20 of 64 from the field (31 percent) and 12 of 22 from the free-throw line. The Lady Govs had 18 turnovers.
Monique Reid led Louisville (4-1) with 18, and Becky Burke hit for 15 while Bria Smith finished with 13.
‘One more year,’ Bussabarger said. ‘I feel this year I’ve stepped up. The coaches have told me I need to step up and, being a junior captain, I want to help our team. We have such a great team right now. Our bench is so deep, anybody can show up. Anybody can do anything on our team. I’m so happy with them right now. Yes, it’s a loss, but we’ll move on. We’ll have American and Cal-Poly (in a California Thanksgiving weekend tournament). We can be, hopefully, 4-1 soon.’