FIRST HALF TURNOVERS DOOM UT MARTIN IN 81-71 ROAD SETBACK AT EASTERN ILLINOIS
February 9, 2017
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CHARLESTON, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team could not shake off a slow start this evening in an 81-71 Ohio Valley Conference loss against Eastern Illinois at Lantz Arena.
The Skyhawks (17-10, 7-5 OVC) won the rebounding battle by a 40-31 margin and outscored the Panthers by a 37-20 margin in the paint tonight but committed 19 turnovers – 15 of which came in the opening half.
Javier Martinez recorded his eighth double-double of the season for UT Martin, securing 16 points (on 8-of-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Jacolby Mobley tossed in a team-high 17 points while Jalen Jackson came off the bench to tally a career-best 11 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Skyhawks.
Eastern Illinois (12-13, 4-8 OVC) was led by Montell Goodwin’s 22 points. Demetrius McReynolds (16), Casey Teson (14) and Ray Crossland (10) also reached double-figures in the scoring column for the Panthers, who shot an even 50 percent (12-for-24) of their three-point attempts.
“We didn’t do too many things to help ourselves, particularly in the first half with 15 turnovers,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Some of our bench players stepped up and contributed tonight but we’re disappointed in the result. We weren’t getting enough stops and that’s not a recipe for success.”
The senior tandem of Mobley and Martinez combined to score UT Martin’s first eight points but the Panthers were able to claim a nine-point lead less than five minutes into the contest.
Matthew Butler knocked down a straightaway three-pointer at the 11:39 mark to trim the Skyhawk deficit to five points. Moments later, Eastern Illinois was able to take its first double-digit lead (26-16) of the game before UT Martin received a lift from its bench.
Kahari Beaufort tossed in five consecutive points for the Skyhawks while an old-fashioned three-point play by Malik London pulled UT Martin within four points at 27-23. Mobley would sink a pull-up trey from the left wing to whittle the Skyhawk deficit down to one point but the Panthers responded with the next eight points.
Mobley ended UT Martin’s scoring drought with a three-pointer from the right wing but Eastern Illinois accounted for a 9-1 run to go on top by a 45-31 margin. Mobley would add two free throws with 31 seconds to go in the opening half to result in a 45-33 halftime score.
Despite 12 first-half points out of Mobley, the Skyhawks shot just 40 percent (12-of-30) in the opening 20 minutes. McReynolds and Goodwin each had 14 points apiece to lead a Panther squad that connected on 53.8 percent (7-for-13) of their three-point attempts in the first half.
UT Martin started the second half off with a Kedar Edwards baseline floater on its opening trip down the floor but Eastern Illinois soon pushed its lead out to 15 points at the 18:21 mark.
The Skyhawks came right back with a 9-0 spurt, capped off with a highlight reel dunk by Chandler Rowe that made the score 50-44. Martinez followed with six straight points for UT Martin but the Panthers built up a 12-point lead with less than 12 minutes to go.
A Mobley take to the hoop resulted in a single-digit deficit (66-58) for the Skyhawks with a little under seven minutes remaining. Eastern Illinois came back with a 6-0 run. Butler drained a triple from the right corner to pull UT Martin back within nine points with 4:05 to go but that would be as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the way.
UT Martin resumes its swing through Illinois with a Saturday, Feb. 11 matchup at OVC West rival SIUE. The game, which will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Midwest, is set to tip off at 1 p.m.