February 24, 2018

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Matthew Butler generated a game-high 25 points in his final game at the University of Tennessee at Martin as the Skyhawk men’s basketball team posted a 72-66 Ohio Valley Conference win in the season finale at Southeast Missouri today.

A redshirt senior guard from Memphis, Tenn., Butler was 8-for-16 from the floor – including a 5-of-11 effort from three-point land. He also added a perfect 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line while logging all 40 minutes.

Playing a little over 30 miles from his hometown, Delfincko Bogan tallied 17 points with a team-high three assists against zero turnovers in 37 minutes for UT Martin. Parrish Hewitt scored 15 points and a career-best nine rebounds off the bench for the Skyhawks, who shot 93.8 percent (15-for-16) from the free throw line.

Southeast Missouri (14-17, 8-10 OVC) was led by Ledarrius Brewer’s 16 points while Denzel Mahoney and Daniel Simmons each provided 11 points apiece. The Redhawks were held to just 37.9 percent (22-of-58) shooting from the floor.

“We wanted to come out here and play for our seniors,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “This was their last opportunity to participate in a college basketball game. So it was important for us to do everything we could to send them off on a winning note. We wanted to build on some things that we need to work on to be successful next year. A lot of teams in the country would have just mailed it in, being on the road without a chance to be in the tournament but our kids came out and played hard.”

Southeast Missouri accounted for the first five points of the game before Mike Fofana muscled up for a bucket inside at the 18:14 mark. The Redhawks soon pushed their advantage out to nine points (13-4) a little over two minutes later.

The Skyhawks fought right back with an 8-0 run, as a pair of two-point buckets by Butler were sandwiched around jumpers by Hewitt and Bogan.

Accuracy from downtown gave UT Martin its first lead of the day. Bogan and Butler canned triples on back-to-back possessions to make the score 26-21 in favor of the Skyhawks with seven minutes to play in the opening half.

Butler helped UT Martin keep its lead with five straight points over a 34-second span. Darius Thompson sank a fadeaway jumper at the 1:31 mark of the first half to open up an eight-point lead for the Skyhawks, who settled for a 37-31 halftime advantage.

The backcourt trio of Butler (12 points), Bogan (nine points) and Hewitt (eight points) paced a UT Martin attack that shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) from the floor in the first 20 minutes. Ray Kowalski dialed up a team-best nine points on a trio of three-pointers for the Redhawks in the opening half.

Bogan opened the scoring in the second half with a penetrating layup less than a minute into the stanza. Following a Southeast Missouri three-pointer, Butler swished back-to-back trifectas – one from each wing – to extend UT Martin’s lead out to double-digits. An up-and-under reverse layup by Hewitt at the 16:21 mark provided the Skyhawks with their biggest lead of the game at 47-34.

A putback by Jailen Gill kept the UT Martin advantage at double figures (50-40) midway through the second half. Southeast Missouri then used a 10-0 run over a stretch of 4:42 to even the score at 50-all with five minutes left to play.

The Skyhawks did not concede their lead, as two Butler free throws at the 4:07 mark made the score 52-50. Bogan followed with a step-in jumper to nudge UT Martin’s lead to four points.

Southeast Missouri closed within a single possession three more times over the next 1:39 but UT Martin would not wilt. Thompson drained a clutch three-pointer from the left wing with 3:06 remaining while Butler knocked down a fadeaway three-pointer with one second left on the shot clock to make the score 62-56 with 1:23 left to play.

Four consecutive free throws out of Thompson and Hewitt with under a minute to go once again provided the Skyhawks with a double-digit advantage (66-56). The Redhawks continued to battle, getting within four points with seven seconds to go but UT Martin won the game at the charity stripe, nailing its final 14 free throw attempts of the contest.

The Skyhawks wrap up Stewart’s second season at the helm with a 10-21 overall record and a 5-13 mark in OVC play – finishing in a three-way tie for the final OVC Tournament spot but not advancing on a tiebreaker. Butler ends his two-year UT Martin career ranking sixth all-time in three-point field goals made (172) while collecting 977 points, 221 assists, 182 rebounds and 50 steals in 66 games over two seasons.

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