WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team held tough for much of the opening contest of the Basketball Travelers Inc. Invitational before struggling in the second half and ultimately falling to Saint Mary’s 69-58 on Sunday afternoon.
The Skyhawks (4-6) and Gaels would pair up in a tough matchup which featured 11 lead changes and saw the score stay close until a cold shooting third quarter proved to be too much to overcome down the stretch. UT Martin would struggle to find the bottom of the net in the third, shooting just 28.6 percent in the period before ultimately being outscored by eight in the period. The Skyhawks would trim the margin down to five points in the fourth but it would not be enough to stage a comeback victory.
Three players scored in double figures for the Skyhawks led by junior guard Emanye Robertson with 15 points, three assists and three blocks. Reigning OVC Co-Player of the Week Kendall Spray also reached double figures for the seventh consecutive contest with 12 points and four assists. Senior Janekia Mason also eclipsed 10 points while tallying a team-high eight rebounds.
Saint Mary’s (6-3) posted a strong afternoon, shooting 53.7 percent from the field while scoring 42 of its 69 points in the paint. The players scored in double figures for the Gaels, led by Megan McKay with a strong double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Syndey Raggio also tallied 18 points while Stella Bella chipped in 11 points for the squad.
Both teams would come out of the gates strong in the first quarter, shooting well over 50 percent from the floor each. The Skyhawk guard duo of Spray and Robertson would both post strong opening quarters, leading all scorers with seven points each. Ultimately, UT Martin lead by as much as seven points in the first before taking a 21-16 advantage into the second quarter.
Saint Mary’s would battle back in the opening minutes of the second quarter, taking its first lead since early in the opening period following back-to-back jumpers. The lead would continue to seesaw back and forth with six lead changes in the quarter. After 20 minutes of action, the Skyhawks would take a 34-32 lead into the halftime break.
The Gaels took control of the third quarter, outscoring the Skyhawks 17-9 in the quarter after forcing six turnovers. McKay would lay a big part in the strong third, tallying 13 points and 10 rebounds during the 10-minute segment to pace the squad. With the strong play by Saint Mary’s and three lead changes later, the Gaels would take a 49-43 lead into the fourth.
Saint Mary’s would push its lead out to 10 points early in the fourth quarter. Trailing by double figures, the Skyhawk duo of Robertson and Myah Taylor would trim the margin down to five points with five minutes left on the clock. The Skyhawks would try to regain control of the contest but a three-pointer by Katie Rathbun would keep the margin at a three-possession contest down the stretch to secure the team’s victory.
UT Martin will return to action against tournament host Purdue on Monday, Dec. 18. Tipoff from Mackey Arena is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on Big Ten Network Plus.