MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team snapped its lengthy six-game losing streak on Wednesday night behind a balanced scoring attack which featured four players in double figures, resulting in an 83-80 victory over Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay.
The Skyhawks (5-16, 2-6 OVC) overcame a string of narrow defeats by outscoring the visiting Governors by six points during the second half. UT Martin would shoot 61 percent from the floor while tallying just four turnovers as opposed to the seven they forced in the final half of play. The win not only snapped the Skyhawks longest losing streak during the Kevin McMillan era but moved the head coach into fifth place on the OVC’s all-time wins leaderboard with his 147 career victory.
UT Martin boasted a balanced scoring attack which saw four players score in double figures – including a pair of 20-point scorers which ranked as a first for the Skyhawks this season. Reigning OVC Newcomer of the Week Ashton Feldhaus put on a show, scoring a career-high 23 points while matching her previous career-best with nine rebounds to lead the Skyhawks. Sophomore guard Myah Taylor also tossed in 23 points for the Skyhawks while Kendall Spray (14 points) and Emanye Robertson (12 points) rounded out the quartet in double figures.
“I think this bunch needed to win a game after playing so many close but coming up just short,” said McMillan. “That’s tough on a young bunch but we had some players make some big plays down the stretch and maybe this can be something that will catapult them onto the next one. I hope they decided that they like this feeling and turn that into winning more.”
Austin Peay (10-11, 4-4 OVC) snapped its three-game winning streak despite shooting over 48 percent from the field, placing five players in double figures and outrebounding the Skyhawks by 11. Reigning OVC Player of the Week Tearra Banks flirted with yet another double-double, tallying 27 points and nine rebounds while Beth Rates accomplished the feat with 12 points and 11 boards. The trio of Bri Williams (11), Keisha Gregory (22) and Brianne Alexander (10) each eclipsed double-digits in the scoring column.
The opening quarter would see the game be tied four times while featuring four different lead changes. Austin Peay would hold a lead as large as four points midway through the quarter while UT Martin took a three-point lead of its own late in the period. Taylor would post a big opening quarter, scoring nine points off the bench to give the Skyhawks an 18-15 advantage heading into the second.
Austin Peay would push back in the second quarter, outscoring UT Martin 22-16 in the period. The post duo of Banks and Feldhaus would both notch strong scoring performances for their respective teams, scoring 10 points each in the second quarter alone. The Govs would rely on the team’s shooting touch in the quarter, shooting over 64 percent from the floor which in turn lifted the visitors to a 37-34 halftime advantage.
The score would change hands once again in the third quarter as UT Martin outscored Austin Peay by six points during the period. With both teams combining to score 42 points, Taylor would score nine points of her own to eclipse the 20-point plateau for the Skyhawks while the duo of Spray and Feldhaus combined to score 11 points. The balanced scoring attack for the Skyhawks would prove large as the home squad took a narrow 58-55 advantage into the final quarter of play.
Austin Peay would quickly jump back into the driver’s seat in the opening minutes of the first quarter by outscoring the Skyhawks 11-4 to take a four-point advantage, resulting in a timeout by the home squad. The Skyhawks would find an answer however as Feldhaus scored six consecutive points to tie the game at 70-70 with just under four minutes to play.
UT Martin would string together a stretch with seven consecutive field goals, giving the home squad a four-point lead following a pair of free throws by Robertson. The Govs would look to answer with a three of their own to trim the margin to one with four seconds remaining but a pair of free throws by Spray with three seconds remaining would seal the Skyhawks victory.
The Skyhawks will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 28 with a road contest to OVC rival Murray State. Tipoff from the CFSB Center is scheduled for 5 p.m.