December 27, 2016

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Three-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champion University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team will look to protect its home court in the squad’s league opener against Jacksonville State on Thursday, Dec. 29. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the frontend of a doubleheader with the Skyhawk men’s basketball team.

The Skyhawks (3-10, 0-0 OVC) are looking to get back to its winning ways after struggling through a difficult non-conference schedule which featured two ranked opponents and eight teams which competed in postseason play a year ago. With the start of OVC play, UT Martin will look to continue a 26-game conference home winning streak which ranks as the fourth longest active streak in the country behind Florida Gulf Coast (69), UConn (47) and Chattanooga (43). Additionally, the Skyhawks hold a 54-5 home record against OVC foes since the 2009-10 season.

UT Martin boasts three players in double figures led by the play of sophomore guard Myah Taylor who averages 11.2 points per game after earning OVC All-Newcomer honors a season ago. Newly named adidas OVC Freshman of the Week Kendall Spray has also been impressive by scoring 10.9 points per game while eclipsing double figures in eight contests – including a pair of 17-point performances against No. 22 DePaul and Northwestern last week. Emanye Robertson ranks third on the team with 10.5 points while leading the team with 4.2 assists per game.

Thursday’s matchup features the last three OVC Coach of the Year honorees in UT Martin’s Kevin McMillan (2015 and 2016) along with Jacksonville State’s Rick Peitri (2014). McMillan boasts a 145-93 overall record in eight seasons while notching a 93-23 mark in OVC play. McMillan currently ranks sixth in OVC history with 145 wins while ranking just one behind Tennessee State’s Teresa Phillips with 146. Peitri hosts a 270-228 overall record while posting a 50-51 mark in four seasons at Jacksonville State.

Jacksonville State (7-5, 0-0 OVC) enters the contest as winners of five of its last six games with the team’s lone setback coming to ACC foe Clemson 69-63 its last time out. The Gamecocks are led by senior guard Briana Benson who is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Junior Tyler Phelion averages 9.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while leading the squad with 20 blocks.

Thursday’s matchup marks the 34th meeting between the two program’s with Jacksonville State holding a slim 17-16 series advantage. UT Martin has controlled the series as of late, winning eight consecutive contests dating back to the 2011-12 season. Jacksonville State won its last matchup in the Elam Center on Feb. 11, 2010 with a 56-51 decision.

The game will be streamed live, free of charge, courtesy of the OVC Digital Network at the link above. Fans can also tune into KYTN 104.9 FM to hear Chris Brinkley (play-by-play) and Cal Luther (color) provide analysis. Links for the radio broadcast 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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