WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM USES FIRST 15 MINUTES OF GAME TO KNOCK OFF TSU
February 19, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Junior guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome scored 31 points each to lead The University of Tennessee at Martin to a 77-58 victory over host Tennessee State Monday night at the Gentry Center.
And for the fourth consecutive season, UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillian said the Tennessee State game will mark a turning point in the season for the Skyhawks.
The first year, under the direction of McMillian, the Skyhawks came to Nashville and suffered an embarrassing loss (51-38). “Two years ago we come in here and we are down by 10 points at the half and we come back and win (70-64). And then last year we are down by 12 points and we score 70 in the second half and win,” McMillian said.
After all four games, the Skyhawks made the best of the remainder of their regular season.
This year it was the first 15 minutes of the game that was stellar for the Skyhawks. After a 10-all tie, the Skyhawks went on a 14-0 run and never looked back.
“If we can play this way (in the first 15 minutes of the game) we are going to be the team nobody wants to play in the tournament,” McMillian said.
UT Martin led 44-28 at the half.
While Newsome kept the offense going with 24 first-half points and four 3-pointers, it was the Skyhawk defense that stood out. The defense forced 12 TSU turnovers and outscored TSU 11-2 off the turnovers.
Rickiesha Bryant had four first-half blocks and seven rebounds as the Skyhawks battled TSU evenly on the boards 17-17. The senior finished the game with eight points, nine rebounds and she tied a career-best six blocks.
Like the last five minutes of the first half where the Skyhawks missed six consecutive free throws, the Skyhawks slowed down in the opening minutes of the second half. Newsome missed her first three field goals of the half.
Butler answered the challenge. She went 10-for-10 at the free throw line and scored 19-second half points.
“Butler and Newsome made the officials make calls late in the second half,” McMillian said.
Tennessee State was led by Chelsea Hudson with 17 points and Simone Hopes with nine points and nine rebounds.
With the victory the Skyhawks improve to 13-14 on the year and 8-5 in the OVC West. Tennessee State falls to 11-13 and 7-6 in the OVC East.
The Skyhawks will return to action Saturday, Feb. 23, when they meet OVC East rival Murray State at the CFSB Center in Murray, Ky. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
- Junior Heather Butler has now made at least one 3-pointer in 73 consecutive games and scored in double-digits in 90 games.
- Senior Rickiesha Bryant has 134 career and 60 blocks this season. Bryant finished the TSU game with a career-best six blocks. She is on pace to lead the Skyhawks in blocks for the third consecutive season. Bryant is UT Martin’s second career-leader in blocks.