CHARLESTON, Ill. – Freshman Parrish Hewitt led the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team in scoring for the first time this evening but the Skyhawk offense struggled in an 80-60 loss at Eastern Illinois.
Hewitt pumped in 16 points off the bench, marking the fifth time this season the Memphis, Tenn. native has accrued double-digit points in a game for UT Martin.
Matthew Butler registered 11 points and a career-high eight rebounds for the Skyhawks (6-14, 1-6 Ohio Valley Conference). Dominique Williams added 10 points, four rebounds and a team-high three assists while Terrence Parker posted seven points and a career-best 13 rebounds as UT Martin shot 36.7 percent (22-of-60) from the floor – including a 4-of-17 effort (23.5 percent) from beyond the three-point arc.
Eastern Illinois (7-11, 3-4 OVC) was powered by double-doubles out of Mack Smith (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Muusa Dama (12 points, 13 rebounds). Montell Goodwin pitched in 18 points while Jajuan Starks scored 14 points for the Panthers.
“We shot 11 percent from three-point range in the first half and you just can’t do that,” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Our shot selection wasn’t very good and they played very good defense. In the second half, we had some guys that came in and flew around defensively. We just need to find five guys who are on the same page with their effort – we’re still searching for players who can give us that on a consistent basis.”
Butler got things started off right for UT Martin, draining a pull-up three-pointer from the right wing just 32 seconds into the contest. The Panthers came right back with a 10-2 run before a short jumper by Delfincko Bogan trimmed the Skyhawk deficit to 10-9 at the 12:43 mark.
Eastern Illinois followed with 11 of the next 13 points to go ahead by a 23-11 margin. Parker collected back-to-back buckets while Parrish Hewitt poured in six consecutive UT Martin points in the span of 2:55 to help the Skyhawks close to within 10 points. The Panthers added a late bucket to wrap up the first half with a 33-21 advantage at the break.
Parker compiled a team-best six points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds in the opening half as UT Martin shot 33.3 percent (10-of-30) from the floor. Goodwin accounted for a game-high 10 points for an Eastern Illinois squad that shot 36.1 percent (13-for-36) in the first 20 minutes.
Butler was able to tally an old-fashioned three-point play to open the Skyhawk scoring in the second half. The Panthers then scored eight unanswered points over a 2:21 stretch to claim a 43-24 lead at the 15:26 mark.
Eastern Illinois extended its lead out to 24 points with 12:13 remaining in the second half but UT Martin kept fighting. The Skyhawks unfurled an 18-7 run, as Hewitt (six points), Williams (six), Butler (five) and Parker (one) each contributed during the extended surge. As a result, UT Martin found itself down 63-50 with a little under seven minutes to go. However, that would be as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the way.
UT Martin resumes its OVC swing through the Land of Lincoln when it takes on the SIUE Cougars on Saturday, Jan. 20. The game – which will tip off at 1 p.m. – will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Midwest.