HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball squad led for over 27 minutes of clock time this evening but could not halt a late Marshall charge in a 102-91 loss in the season opener at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Skyhawks (0-1) came out of the gate strong, securing a 46-31 halftime lead. UT Martin maintained a four-point advantage with less than two minutes to play in regulation before the Thundering Herd went on top by three points with 5.5 seconds remaining. Skyhawk graduate transfer Dominique Williams then came up with a clutch play, sending the contest into overtime after swishing a trifecta from the left wing right in front of the UT Martin bench at the buzzer.
However, Marshall (1-0) was able to outscore the Skyhawks by a 19-8 margin in the extra period to escape with the win.
Williams was the star for UT Martin tonight, pouring in 25 points (on 10-of-12 shooting) to go along with six rebounds in 37 key minutes off the bench. Matthew Butler tossed in 20 points and a team-best four assists while playing all 45 minutes, notching his fourth 20-plus point game in his Skyhawk career. Terrence Parker (12 points, 10 rebounds in 28 minutes) and Delfincko Bogan (10 points, three assists, two steals in 33 minutes) also gave UT Martin a spark off the bench as the Skyhawks shot 53.1 percent (34-of-64) from the floor.
Marshall was led by reigning Conference USA Player of the Year Jon Elmore, as the junior tallied game-highs of 38 points and eight assists. CJ Burks (23 points), Adjin Penava (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Jarrod West (10 points, five assists) also paced the Thundering Herd, who connected on 75 percent (6-for-8) of their field goal attempts in overtime.
Butler knocked down a jumper at the 18:36 mark to give UT Martin its first points of the season. The redshirt senior from Memphis, Tenn. followed with back-to-back three-pointers to hand the Skyhawks an 11-9 advantage at the 15:57 mark of the first half.
Treys on back-to-back possessions from Bogan and Butler resulted in a 21-17 UT Martin lead with 10:33 left to play in the first half. The Skyhawks would not trail for the next 23 minutes of clock time, as a pair of Parker free throws at the 3:36 mark extended UT Martin’s lead out to double-digits (36-26).
Elmore answered with a layup on Marshall’s next trip down the floor but the Skyhawks closed out the half on a 10-3 run. Jerome Davis piled up four points during that stretch, leading to a 46-31 UT Martin advantage at the break.
The Skyhawks shot a blistering 58.3 percent from three-point range (7-of-12) in the opening half, as Butler’s 11 points guided UT Martin. Elmore provided 13 points for the Thundering Herd, who misfired on its last 12 three-point attempts of the first half (2-for-15 overall).
Marshall began the second half on a 9-0 run until Williams canned a jumper at the 17:26 mark. The Skyhawks’ lead was whittled down to two points (50-48) with 15 minutes to play in regulation but two straight buckets by Butler and Darius Thompson provided UT Martin with some breathing room.
A free throw at the 7:40 mark generated the Thundering Herd’s first lead of the second half. A little over a minute later, Butler calmly nailed a jumper to tilt the score back in favor of the Skyhawks. Butler later added a big three-pointer that made the score 72-68 at the under-4-minute media timeout.
The score was knotted at 72-72 with 3:15 remaining in regulation until Williams and Mike Fofana came up with big scores to put UT Martin back ahead, 76-72 with two minutes to go.
The Thundering Herd then charged back for a 9-2 run before Williams’ heroics tied the score at 83-all and sent the contest into overtime.
Any momentum the Skyhawks may have gained was quickly erased, as Marshall dialed up the first nine points in the extra period. A pair of Williams free throws at the 2:25 mark ended UT Martin’s drought but seven points was as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the way.
UT Martin continues its two-game season-opening road swing on Sunday, Nov. 12 when it travels to Illinois. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. as the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.