CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team fought their way back from a 13-point deficit to tie the score with under five minutes to play tonight but the Skyhawks dropped a tough 75-69 decision to Austin Peay.
UT Martin (6-10, 1-2 Ohio Valley Conference) connected on all 14 of its free throw attempts this evening. That marked the first time the Skyhawks had made 100 percent of their shots from the charity stripe since a 7-for-7 performance at Nebraska on Nov. 28, 2014 and the first time that UT Martin was perfect from the free throw line in league play since a 9-of-9 effort at Murray State on Feb. 23, 2009. Tonight’s performance came up just shy of the school’s single-game record for most free throws made without a miss (16 at Southeast Missouri on Feb. 26, 2005 and 16 against Christian Brothers on Nov. 29, 1999).
Matthew Butler compiled a game-high 23 points for the Skyhawks, who also received double-digit scoring efforts out of Fatodd Lewis (12 points), Delfincko Bogan (12) and Kahari Beaufort (10). Jailen Gill hauled in a team-best seven rebounds for UT Martin, who shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29) from the field in the final 20 minutes to help erase an 11-point halftime deficit.
Austin Peay (8-7, 3-0 OVC) was led by Chris Porter-Bunton’s 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Terry Taylor scored 15 points while Averyl Ugba provided a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds for a Governor squad that hit 11 three-pointers.
“It was a story too familiar,” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We dug ourselves a hole and we fought back but it was just too much to overcome. You can’t do those types of things and expect to win in this conference on the road.”
UT Martin faced a 6-0 deficit before Butler drained a three-pointer from the right corner to get the Skyhawks on the scoreboard. The redshirt senior guard canned another triple from the opposite corner at the 14:39 mark to keep UT Martin on pace.
After Austin Peay opened up an eight-point lead at the second media timeout, the Skyhawks trimmed their deficit to just two points at the 10:22 mark. Lewis (two free throws), Darius Thompson (driving layup) and Gill (two free throws) scored on three consecutive trips down the floor to help UT Martin pull within a single possession.
The Governors followed with a 10-2 run that created a double-digit Skyhawk deficit (26-16). The Skyhawks scored on back-to-back possessions to narrow the Austin Peay lead to five points but the Governors led by as many as 13 points before taking a 36-25 lead into the locker room at the break.
Butler poured in 11 points to lead all scorers but UT Martin struggled with a 28.6 percent (8-of-28) shooting performance in the opening 20 minutes. Austin Peay was guided by Taylor’s 10 points in the first half.
The two sides swapped points through the first four minutes of the second half. Beaufort provided the Skyhawks with a spark with five consecutive points but the Governors were able to take a 13-point lead (54-41) with just under 12 minutes to go.
Bogan keyed a UT Martin comeback, as the Charleston, Mo. native scored 10 of 12 Skyhawk points during a stretch of 3:37. His scoring outburst resulted in a slim 60-55 UT Martin deficit after his old-fashioned three-point play at the 6:47 mark.
Lewis accounted for four points in seven seconds before Beaufort buried a three-pointer from the right wing to even the score at 62-all with 4:40 to go. Austin Peay responded with the next eight points over a 1:39 span to take a 70-62 advantage. Butler added five more points and Bogan tacked on a mid-range jumper down the stretch but the Skyhawks could not get any closer than five points the rest of the way.
UT Martin wraps up its short two-game road trip on Saturday, Jan. 6 when it heads to Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State. Tipoff time from the CFSB Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.