January 7, 2017

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team led by as many as 12 points this evening but a strong second half by Tennessee State propelled the Tigers to a 76-65 win at the Gentry Center.

The Skyhawks (11-8, 1-3 Ohio Valley Conference) raced out to a 21-9 lead to begin the contest before settling for a 30-26 lead at the halftime break. However, UT Martin wasn’t able to fend off a Tennessee State offensive attack that connected on 66.7 percent (18-for-27) of its shot attempts in the final 20 minutes.

Fatodd Lewis led the Skyhawks in scoring for the second time this season, recording 11 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists off the bench. Javier Martinez scored 10 points and snared a team-best eight rebounds while Matthew Butler (10 points), Kedar Edwards (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals) and Jacolby Mobley (nine points) also guided UT Martin.

Tennessee State (11-5, 2-1 OVC) placed four players in double-figures scoring, led by Delano Spencer’s 19 points. Tahjere McCall and Wayne Martin scored 17 points apiece while Darreon Reddick added 11 points for the Tigers.

“We started out on the right foot but we couldn’t keep it going,” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We had a good lead but couldn’t get stops toward the end of the first half. Our shots weren’t going down and we weren’t getting many consecutive stops in the second half. We played well in spurts but we couldn’t put it all together for the full 40 minutes.”

The Skyhawk defense was swarming early, as UT Martin held Tennessee State without a field goal for the first 6:47 of the contest. The Tigers began the game 0-for-10 from the field while the Skyhawks built up a double-digit lead at 15-4. Martinez scored six of UT Martin’s first eight points of the game to help the Skyhawk offense get off to a successful start.

Three-pointers by Lewis and Butler increased UT Martin’s lead to a dozen (21-9) a little over 11 minutes into the game. Tennessee State trimmed its deficit to five points at the 6:10 mark but Jalen Jackson and Kahari Beaufort knocked down three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to push the Skyhawk advantage back out to 28-17.

A tip-in by Lewis with 3:13 to go in the first half maintained UT Martin’s lead at 11 points but the Tigers would close out the half on a 7-0 run to result in a 30-26 Skyhawk advantage at the break.

Martinez compiled six points and seven rebounds to lead UT Martin in the opening half. Armani Chaney scored a team-high six points for Tennessee State, who shot just 32.3 percent – including a 16.7 percent (2-of-12) effort from three-point land.

The Tigers began the second half by scoring seven of the first eight points, taking their first lead of the game (33-31) in the process. An offensive rebound and ensuing layup by Martinez evened the score but McCall tossed in six straight Tennessee State points during a 14-3 run that made the score 49-38 in favor of the Tigers.

After Edwards sank a trey from the left corner at the 12-minute mark, the Skyhawks did not convert another field goal for 3:31. That drought allowed Tennessee State to open up a 12-point lead with eight minutes remaining.

UT Martin’s offense warmed up with a 6-0 run over a span of 1:16, as Edwards (three-pointer), Beaufort (two free throws) and Butler (long two-point jumper) helped the Skyhawks close within five points at 59-54. However, the Tigers answered with an 8-2 run to go back ahead by double-digits (67-56) with 4:03 left to play.

Malik London scored six points as part of a final UT Martin surge but ultimately the Skyhawks would not get any closer than seven points the rest of the way.

The Skyhawks start a three-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 14 when they host OVC West rival Southeast Missouri. The contest, which is the backend of a doubleheader with the women’s basketball team, will start at approximately 6 p.m.

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