Postgame Press Conference
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team used a 12-3 run over the game’s final three minutes to secure a 62-54 comeback victory over Southern Conference member Western Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
The Skyhawks (2-3) snapped a brief two-game losing skid with a strong comeback victory after trailing by as much as nine points in the second half. UT Martin would play stingy defense, limiting the Catamounts to just 38.3 percent shooting from the field while forcing 32 turnovers, but it was the team’s 29.6 percent shooting effort which proved costly for much of the contest.
Despite the poor shooting performance, the Skyhawks placed three players in double figures led by junior guard Emanye Robertson which tallied a game-high 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds to go along with four steals and three assists. Sophomore Kendall Spray also tallied 12 points while senior Janekia Mason notched 12 points to round out the trio in double figures.
“We had a tough time getting going,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “I didn’t think we gave a great effort in the first half even though we forced 19 turnovers. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and we weren’t executing well even though we were getting some good looks. It wasn’t until midway through the third quarter when we finally started to figure it out. I can’t get our kids to understand how fragile a basketball game is until the whole momentum changes on one play. I think the girls are trying but we still have a long way to go.”
Western Carolina (1-4) saw two players score in double figures led by Lauren LaPlant with 12 points. Meanwhile Tembre Moates approached a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds while Sherae Bonner tallied seven points and 11 rebounds.
Both teams would play even through the opening media timeout as each team tallied seven points each. The first quarter wouldn’t present too much separation throughout, as the Skyhawks led by as much as six points with less than a minute left in the period before taking a 15-13 lead into the second.
The second quarter wouldn’t prove to be much more exciting as the Skyhawks’ offense went silent. The Skyhawks would notch six offensive rebounds but could not capitalize as the team shot just over 20 percent from the field in the quarter. Due in large part to UT Martin going scoreless over the final eight minutes of the second quarter, Western Carolina would head into halftime riding a 13-2 run while holding a 28-21 advantage.
The Catamounts would push their margin out to as high as nine points on three occasions in the third quarter. The margin would continue to sway in the final minutes of the period with the Skyhawks cutting the margin to as close as three points with just over a minute left. Despite UT Martin outscoring Western Carolina by two in the period, the Catamounts would take a five-point margin into the fourth quarter.
UT Martin would turn up the intensity in the fourth quarter, not only digging its way out of a large hole, but taking five leads in the period alone. The Skyhawks would take their final lead off a three-pointer by Spray with just under three minutes to play, a lead in which they would not relinquish. As a whole, UT Martin would take control of the contest down the stretch with a 12-3 run over three minutes to lift the squad to a 62-54 victory.
UT Martin will return to action with another home contest against North Carolina A&T on Thursday, Nov. 30. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 6 p.m.