November 27, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. –
For the second year in a row the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team had a chance to send the game against Vanderbilt to overtime, but the Skyhawks would not find the bottom of the basket, falling to the Southeastern Conference foe 79-77 on Sunday afternoon.

The Skyhawks (1-5) dropped its third consecutive outing in a contest which featured 11 lead changes and five ties. Short-handed once again, the Skyhawks won the battle of the boards and overcame several sizable margins before fighting back to give the team a chance to win in the final moments.  

UT Martin placed three players in double figures, led by sophomore Emanye Robertson who once again built upon a previous career-high performance with a game-high 23 points. Robertson also led the team with six assists and three rebounds. The sophomore was joined in double figures by classmate Myah Taylor who tallied 15 points while junior Ashton Feldhaus flirted with a double-double, posting 14 points and eight rebounds.

“Our girls chose that today was a day that they were going to compete,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “There were several times in the game where they could have tucked their tails and ran away, but our kids kept fighting and wouldn’t lay down. This is a game that our program deserves to win but our team just isn’t ready for. Despite the youth and being down three of our better players, the team battled and gave us a shot to win - which is all you can them to do. Today we saw the stride this team has made to become better.”

Vanderbilt (6-1) picked up its third straight win behind a strong shooting performance which saw the Commodores shoot 50.9 percent from the floor and 59.1 percent from beyond the arc en route to draining 13 three-pointers. The Commodores were led by the guard combo of Rachel Bell with 22 points while Rebekah Dahlman notched 17 points and nine assists.

Both teams would battle in the opening quarter of the contest with UT Martin getting on the board first with a 4-0 lead. Vanderbilt respond with a 10-3 run of its own to take a six-point lead midway through the period. With the Skyhawks trailing 13-7, the squad would settle down and trim the margin to one point just before the quarter expired following a three-pointer by Feldhaus. Despite the late run, Vanderbilt would hold an 18-17 lead heading into the second.

UT Martin would open the second quarter by narrowly outscoring Vanderbilt 9-8 in the first six minutes, tying the contest at 26 heading into the media timeout. A pair of free throws by Kalei Clemons-Green would break the tie while snapping a three-minute scoreless streak for the Commodores. The visitors would continue their strong play down the stretch, taking a 32-28 lead into halftime. At the break, Vanderbilt would be led by Clemons-Green with eight points while UT Martin was paced by Robertson with nine points.

Vanderbilt would come out of halftime on a 9-2 run behind seven points from Marqu’es Webb, pushing the margin out to as large as nine in the opening 80 seconds of the third quarter. UT Martin would respond however, stringing together an 8-0 run to give the squad a 46-45 lead – punctuated by another three-pointer by Feldhaus. The lead would change hands five times in the third quarter including a three-pointer by Kendall Spray at the buzzer to give UT Martin a 57-56 advantage heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter would see UT Martin push its lead out to as high as six points three occasions, but Vanderbilt would charge right back with a run of its own. The Commodores would hit back-to-back three-pointers by Dahlman and Bell to tie the game at 68 before a free throw would not only eliminate the deficit but give the squad its first lead of the fourth quarter at the 5:30 mark. The visitors would continue their strong play, pushing their lead up to six points with a couple minutes to go before the Skyhawks would make it interesting in the final minute.

Trailing by four with two minutes to play, the Skyhawks would find a layup by Breanna Boggs to cut the margin to two. After another Vanderbilt bucket, a three-point play by Robertson would pull the Skyhawks within one with 39 seconds to play. A free throw by the guests would stretch their margin out to two points with 1.1 seconds to play. An executed backdoor by Robertson would set up the final shot attempt but the potential game-tying shot would not go down as the Commodores escaped with a 79-77 victory.

UT Martin will remain at home when the Skyhawks play host to Missouri Valley Conference foe Southern Illinois on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. as the front-end of a doubleheader with the men’s team.

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