WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team would suffer their second dramatic loss in as many games on Wednesday afternoon in the final contest of the Basketball Travelers Inc. Invitational as a three-pointer by Eastern Washington’s Brittany Klaman with 0.8 seconds on the clock proved to be too much to overcome in a 61-58 setback.
The Skyhawks (4-8) close out the non-conference portion of the schedule on a three-game losing streak after being swept in the BTI Invitational by a total of 16 points over the course of three games. Despite the end results, sophomore Kendall Spray was honored for her strong tournament play by receiving all-tournament honors after averaging 14.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
In a game which saw the game become tied on 13 occasions along with 11 lead changes, the Skyhawks shot 44.2 percent from the field. While the team shot well offensively, it was the team’s 21 turnovers which led to 21 easy points for the Eagles’ defense – including 14 off fastbreak opportunities.
Junior guard Emanye Robertson led the team with 16 points along with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals but committed nine turnovers on the afternoon. Spray wasn’t far behind, tallying 13 points of her own while leading the squad with eight rebounds. Senior Janekia Mason rounded out the Skyhawk trio in double figures with 11 points and six rebounds.
Eastern Washington (5-7) picked up its first victory in the tournament despite shooting 33.3 percent from the field. Despite the low shooting percentage, the team’s defense kept the squad in the contest setting up Klaman for her late game heroics which registered both of her three-pointers in the final two minutes of the contest. Meanwhile Delaney Hodgins paced the squad with 18 points and nine rebounds while Amy Hartleroad (12) and Symone Starks (10) rounded out the Eagles in double figures.
With the early start time, each team came out of the gates struggling to turn up the intensity. As a result, the Skyhawks would record seven turnovers in the opening period despite shooting 43 percent from the floor. Despite the turnover margin, eight points by Emanye Robertson in the opening period would give the Skyhawks a 15-10 advantage heading into the second.
Both team’s combined struggles would continue in the second quarter as the game saw just two points scored in the opening five minutes of the period. Heading into the media break the two squads had combined to shoot just 2-of-11 from the field while combining for five points. Eastern Washington would be the first to break loose from its early funk, outscoring UT Martin 10-4 over the final four minutes of the quarter to knot the game at 23-23 heading into halftime.
The lid would finally come off the basket in the third as both teams scored 20 points in the frame. The guard duo of Spray and Hartleroad would do much of the heavy lifting by scoring eight points each. Despite the lead changing hands three times during the quarter, with another even period, UT Martin and Eastern Washington entered the fourth tied at 43-all.
The game’s intensity would jump in the fourth quarter as neither team let their opponent have an inch. The score would become tied on seven occasions along with four lead changes in the period alone. With the game still tied at 58-58 with 4.3 seconds to play, Eastern Washington would call a timeout to advance the ball, setting up Klaman for late game heroics with a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining to ultimately give the squad a 61-58 victory.
UT Martin will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 28 in the team’s Ohio Valley Conference opener against Tennessee State. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 3 p.m.