LEAGUE TITANS UT MARTIN AND No. 22 BELMONT SET TO SQUARE OFF FOR NCAA BERTH

March 2, 2018

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The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team will compete for its fifth Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Championship title in program history in a battle of league titans when matching up against No. 22 nationally ranked Belmont on Saturday, March 3. Tipoff from the Ford Center is scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Skyhawks (19-13) are competing in the program’s sixth OVC Basketball Championship final in the past eight seasons in a battle of the top-two seeds on Saturday afternoon. UT Martin has posted a 15-5 mark in tournament play under the direction of head coach Kevin McMillan while winning four consecutive titles in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The matchup will pit two of the league’s perennial championship contenders in UT Martin and Belmont against each other. The Skyhawks won four OVC regular season titles and four OVC tournament titles over the course of five seasons while the Bruins finally broke through with a perfect 16-0 campaign en route to its first OVC championship and second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth last season while rolling to an 18-0 mark this year. Dating back to the 2011-12 season, UT Martin (106-26, 80.3 percent) and Belmont (78-20, 79.6 percent) have combined to post a 184-46 overall record against conference foes.

UT Martin squeaked through in the OVC Championship semifinals as OVC All-Newcomer selection Chelsey Perry tallied a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the contest to lift the Skyhawks to a 69-67 victory. Perry has proved dynamic in tournament play, averaging 20.5 points in her first two games. Meanwhile, All-OVC sophomore guard Kendall Spray will look to return to form after entering the contest averaging 17.2 points per game – good for fourth in the league – while ranking second in the nation with 121 made three-pointers on the season.

Belmont (30-3) enters the contest ranked No. 22 nationally while having won its last 21 games – including completing their conference season undefeated for the second-straight season, finishing with an 18-0 record. The team’s 30 wins rank as a program high in the team’s Division I era. Overall, the Bruins have won their last 45 consecutive matchups against OVC opponents – including OVC Tournament contests - dating back to the 2015-16 season.

The Bruins have notched wins over Murray State (88-64) and Jacksonville State (63-53) in the first two rounds of this season’s tournament. Belmont is paced offensively by the play of three All-OVC first team selections in Kylee Smith (18.7 ppg), Darby Maggard (16.8 ppg) and Sally McCabe (14.5 ppg). As a team, the Bruins pace the conference in assists, scoring offense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, assist turnover ratio, and three-point field goals made.

Saturday’s championship matchup marks the 33rd meeting between the two programs in series history. Belmont holds a 21-11 series advantage winning the past three matchups – including a 65-63 decision on Dec. 30, 2017 in which UT Martin led for over 39 minutes before falling short on a jumper by Maggard in the final minute. Despite the recent results, the Skyhawks have won seven of the last 11 meetings while posting a 2-1 mark against the Bruins in tournament action.

The game will be broadcast live, free of charge, courtesy of the OVC Digital Network or on ESPN3 through the WatchESPN app. Fans can also tune into Mix 101.3 FM to hear Tom Britt (play-by-play) and Chris Brinkley (color) or to WUTM 90.3, UT Martin’s award winning college radio station to provide analysis. Links for both video feeds and radio broadcasts, along with live stats can be accessed through their respective links above. For in-game updates, follow the Skyhawks on twitter @UTM_Gameday. 



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