February 17, 2018

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MARTIN, Tenn. – Matthew Butler was responsible for a game-high 18 points in his final game at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center but the University of Tennessee at Martin dropped a 64-57 decision to Eastern Illinois in Ohio Valley Conference men’s basketball action.

Butler knocked down five 3-pointers in nine attempts this evening, adding three assists and two steals while logging all 40 minutes for the Skyhawks (9-20, 4-12 OVC). UT Martin overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to take a 53-49 lead with six minutes to play but the visiting Panthers concluded the game on a 15-4 run.

Fatodd Lewis tallied 11 points, three assists, two blocks and four steals for the Skyhawks, who outscored Eastern Illinois 17-2 in fast break points but were outrebounded by a 36-27 margin.

Eastern Illinois (10-17, 6-10 OVC) was led by Montell Goodwin’s 18 points while Ray Crossland and Muusa Dama both scored 12 points. The Panthers were held to just 32 percent shooting (8-of-25) in the final 20 minutes but took a lead with 3:47 remaining that they did not relinquish the rest of the way.

“We’ve had too many close games,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We’re trying to close these games out and win but we just haven’t been able to get over the hump. We hit that patch at the four-minute mark where we ran out of gas and didn’t execute a few times on both ends of the floor.”

Following a pregame ceremony honoring the career accomplishments of Butler, Dominique Williams and Lorenzen Wright, Jr., the Skyhawks came out revved up. A pair of Butler three-pointers were sandwiched around a Lewis layup as UT Martin bolted out to an 8-0 advantage less than two minutes into the contest.

Eastern Illinois responded with eight consecutive points but the Skyhawks quickly reclaimed the lead and maintained that advantage for over four minutes of clock time. The Panthers took a brief 11-second lead but Butler answered with a three-pointer and Thompson sank a jumper in the paint to up UT Martin’s lead to 20-16 at the 10:30 mark.

Eastern Illinois used another 8-0 run to create some separation before their third 8-0 surge of the half provided the Panthers with a 34-22 lead with 2:20 to go before the break. The Skyhawks were able to get within eight points on a steal and dunk by Lewis but Eastern Illinois scored before the buzzer to lead 36-26 at the intermission.

Butler dialed up 11 points for UT Martin in the first half while Goodwin (12) and Crossland (11) reached double-figures in scoring for the Panthers at the break.

The Skyhawk deficit remained at double-figures until UT Martin broke off an 11-0 run, starting with a Butler three-pointer at the 14:48 mark. Bogan followed with back-to-back fast break jumpers before Jailen Gill (tip-in) and Darius Thompson (layup) nudged the Skyhawks ahead by a 43-42 margin midway through the second half.

A tie and four lead changes took place in an 89-second stretch. Thompson canned a three-pointer from the left corner to push UT Martin’s lead out to four points at 51-47 with 7:03 to play.

Bogan scored a layup on a quick take to the hoop to keep the Skyhawk lead at four points at the 6:13 mark. However, that was the final UT Martin field goal of the game. Butler made one of two free throws to tie the score at 54-all but Eastern Illinois scored the next eight points on its way to the win.

The Skyhawks round out the regular season with two OVC games on the road next week. UT Martin pays a visit to Morehead State at 6:30 p.m. CST on Thursday, Feb. 22 before heading to Southeast Missouri at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24.

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