CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team would fight back from a 17-point deficit in the second half before ultimately running out of gas, falling to Ohio Valley Conference foe Austin Peay 69-62 on Wednesday night.
UT Martin trailed by as much as 17 points in the first quarter before battling back and ultimately taking a lead on the opening possession of the fourth quarter. Despite the resurgence, Austin Peay would answer right back with a 12-0 run to push the margin out to double figures down the stretch to pull away with a lead it never relinquished.
The Skyhawks (5-10, 1-2 OVC) were led in scoring by sophomore Kendall Spray with a game-high 17 points. Senior forward Ashton Feldhaus joined in the action with a season-high 15 points in 36 minutes of play.
“We simply did not show up tonight,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “We dug ourselves such a big hole early, then finally decided to play. The sad thing is that once we finally decided to play the way we wanted to and took a lead in the fourth quarter, we reverted right back to our first quarter play and there was no coming back from that.”
Austin Peay (9-5, 2-1 OVC) played tough throughout the contest as three players scored in double figures. Brianne Alexander paced the Govs with 17 points and nine rebounds while Michaela Campbell scored 15 points off the bench. Freshman Brianah Ferby would round out the trio in double figures with 11 points.
The Governors would come out of the gates looking to make a statement against the Skyhawks. Austin Peay would hold UT Martin without a field goal until nearly six minutes into the first quarter while stringing together a 13-1 run during the span. The Governors ultimately pushed their lead out to as large as 17 points in the first quarter following a layup by Campbell – capping off a personal 7-0 run – to give the home squad a 24-7 lead heading into the second.
UT Martin began its comeback attempt in the second quarter, finally finding its way on both sides of the ball. The Skyhawks would still struggle from the floor, shooting below 40 percent in the quarter but limited Austin Peay to just 18.2 percent in the period. A 7-0 run played a big role in the stretch as the Skyhawks outscored the Governors 16-9 in the second to trim the deficit to 33-23 at the half.
The Skyhawks continued to build upon their halftime momentum, opening the second half on a 9-0 run to trim the margin down to a single possession. While UT Martin would never be able to tie or take the lead in the third quarter, the visitors fought throughout the quarter to outscore the Governors 20-11 in the period. With the strong quarter, the Skyhawks would trail the Govs 44-43 heading into the fourth.
UT Martin would finally take its first lead of the contest just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter on a layup by Feldhaus to take a 45-44 advantage. The lead would be short-lived however as Austin Peay responded with a 12-0 to push its lead back out to nine points over the course of two minutes. The shell-shock of the run would be too much to overcome for the Skyhawks, ultimately falling 69-62.
The Skyhawks will look to rebound from back-to-back losses with a matchup at OVC rival Murray State on Saturday, Jan. 6. Tipoff from the CFSB Center is scheduled for 5 p.m.