JONESBORO, Ark. – A costly third quarter proved to be too much to overcome for the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team in its road contest at regional rival Arkansas State, ultimately falling 84-73 in the Convocation Center.
The Skyhawks (1-3) struggled to find critical stops down the stretch, including a third quarter which saw the team be outscored by nine points. Along with the defensive struggles, the Skyhawks uncharacteristically shot just 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Freshman Chelsey Perry led the way for the Skyhawks with a career-high 18 points while matching a career-best with seven rebounds. Junior Myah Taylor chipped in 13 points while senior Janekia Mason notched 12 points to round out the Skyhawk trio in double figures.
“We had control of the game, but we just couldn’t keep it,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “With the way the second half started, we let the game get out of control in the first 27 seconds and the game was over in less than a minute. We couldn’t take advantage of our situations and this young squad can’t make adjustments on the fly quick enough yet. We hope that will change, but it could be a rough stretch until we can work those things out. Our margin for error is really small and tonight we just made too many to overcome. The only positive is that they are competing and hopefully the small things will begin to work themselves out.”
Arkansas State (2-2) saw four players score in double figures led by Jada Ford’s 23 points off the bench. The team’s leading scorer Akasha Westbrook tallied 18 points, five rebounds and three steals while the pair of Payton Tennison and Peyton Martin notched 11 points each.
Neither team would find much separation in the opening quarter of play as the two teams combined for 11 turnovers. The Skyhawks would hold a lead as high as five points in the quarter but the Red Wolves would scrap back with mini runs of their own to keep the deficit within reach. At the end of the first, Arkansas State would hold a 14-13 margin.
UT Martin would find a bit of space midway through the second quarter. Behind a 7-0 run over two minutes of action, the Skyhawks would take an eight-point lead. Much like in the first quarter however, Arkansas State would respond with a quick run of their own to tie the game at 29 late in the first half. With the alternating runs taking command of the game, UT Martin would hold a slim 38-37 margin heading into halftime.
Arkansas State came out of the halftime break looking to take control of the contest with five quick points to take yet another lead before later stretching the team’s lead to as large as eight midway through the quarter. Both squads would trade baskets throughout the rest of the quarter before the Red Wolves took a nine-point lead into the final quarter of play.
The fourth quarter would prove to be high scoring but the Skyhawks would fail to substantially trim the team’s deficit in the final period. The Skyhawks would cut the margin to as close as six points, but a scoring drought would prove to be the team’s downfall, ultimately falling 84-73.
UT Martin will return to action following the Thanksgiving holiday when playing host to Western Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 26. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the front end of a doubleheader.