JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team would overcome a rough shooting night from the field to pull away with a 61-57 overtime victory at Ohio Valley Conference foe Jacksonville State on Thursday evening.
In a game which saw both teams shoot under 32 percent from the field while combining for 45 turnovers, UT Martin and Jacksonville State squared off in a contest which went back and forth throughout. The game would see the score become tied on eight occasions while featuring 10 lead changes.
The Skyhawks improved to 9-12 on the season while moving to 5-4 in league play with a big overtime victory. Trailing by three in the final minutes of regulation, senior Janekia Mason would knock down a three-point on the left wing to tie the contest and force overtime. From there UT Martin pulled away in the overtime period to notch a four-point victory.
Sophomore standout Kendall Spray took control of the contest late in the matchup, scoring a game-high 25 points – including 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime - while tallying seven rebounds. Also posting a well-rounded evening was the play of Mason, who along with the game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation, tallied 13 points. The duo was joined in double figures by junior guard Emanye Robertson with 11 points.
“We finally finished,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “It was weird because there were so many possessions where we didn’t execute and I think that was to be expected with the way we were manipulating rotations. Give credit to Kendall though, because she stepped up and got buckets for us when we needed them. Everyone contributed tonight, we executed down the stretch and made shots. I hope this team continues to grasp at taking ownership.”
Jacksonville State dropped its second consecutive matchup after shooting just 26.8 percent from the floor. The Gamecocks saw just one player score in double figures as Morgan Towells scored a team-high 11 points.
Both squads struggled shooting from the floor in the contest, combining for just 24 points in the first quarter. UT Martin would turn it over seven times in the opening quarter while shooting just 28.6 percent from the floor. With the team’s offensive struggles, the Skyhawks would trail the Gamecocks 13-11 at the end of the first.
Spray would jumpstart the offense in the second quarter, scoring nine of the team’s 19 points in the period while Robertson joined in the action with five of her own. The Skyhawks would ultimately retake the lead in the quarter and push their advantage up to as high as six points late in the period before taking a 30-27 advantage into the break.
UT Martin would go dry from the field in the third quarter, scoring just three points while being held scoreless over the final 7:36 of the period. Jacksonville State would take advantage of its opponents offensive struggles, outscoring UT Martin 12-3 in the quarter to take a 39-33 lead into the fourth.
Play dragged for much of the fourth quarter as well with both teams struggling to get much going. Jacksonville State would hold the lead for much of the period until the final moments. With UT Martin trailing by six with 2:26 to play in the game, Spray knocked down a three-pointer to make it a one possession contest setting up Mason for some late game heroics. After a pair of free throws late saw the Skyhawks trail by three points with 10 seconds to play, Mason would pop off of a curl and rise up to knock down just her second three-pointer of the season to tie the game at 49-49 and force overtime.
The Skyhawks would take advantage of their new life by scoring on the first possession of overtime on a layup by Chelsey Perry. The squad would stay aggressive, pushing the team’s lead out to three points on four occasions before ultimately sealing a 61-57 overtime victory on a pair of free throws by Mason down the stretch.
UT Martin will look to close out its road swing on a positive note with a matchup at OVC foe Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Jan. 27. Tipoff from the Eblen Center is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.