COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team turned an 18-point second half deficit into a tie contest with under five minutes to play this evening at Tennessee Tech. However, the Skyhawks could not complete the comeback in a narrow 63-55 loss at the Eblen Center.
UT Martin (8-15, 3-7 Ohio Valley Conference) trailed by a 40-22 margin with 15:28 remaining before gradually chipping away and eventually tying the game at 49-all at the 4:36 mark. Tennessee Tech was then able to score the next six points of the game to escape with a win.
Delfincko Bogan led the Skyhawks in scoring for the third consecutive game, pumping in 17 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Fatodd Lewis was a key factor in UT Martin’s second half run, piling up 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three steals. The Skyhawks scored 42 points in the paint but their 55 points tied a season-low and UT Martin was outshot by a 28-5 margin at the free throw line.
Tennessee Tech (15-8, 7-3 OVC) was led by Curtis Phillips’ 17 points. Mason Ramsey (12 points) and Shaq Calhoun (11) also scored in double-digits for the Golden Eagles, who were held to 40.4 percent shooting (19-of-47).
“We had a chance to win that game but we didn’t execute down the stretch offensively,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We dug ourselves an 11-point deficit at halftime and we were letting our defense effect our offense. We just ran out of gas and ran out of time.”
Bogan got the Skyhawks on the scoreboard with a leaner a little under two minutes into the contest. However, that would be the only UT Martin field goal for the next 4:23 as the Golden Eagles opened up an 11-2 lead. A backdoor cut by Lewis resulted in an open layup at the 13:38 mark that halted the Skyhawk drought.
Tennessee Tech soon took a double-digit lead that expanded to 15 points before Bogan splashed a trifecta from the left wing with 9:54 to go in the first half. Three minutes later, Matthew Butler followed with layups on back-to-back possessions to help get UT Martin back in an offensive rhythm.
Lewis (right wing three-pointer), Jailen Gill (putback off an offensive rebound) and Bogan (fast break jumper) helped the Skyhawks close the first half on a 7-2 run.
Bogan chalked up team-highs of seven points, five rebounds and three assists for UT Martin in the opening half. Tennessee Tech grabbed a 31-20 halftime lead behind eight points and six rebounds out of Courtney Alexander.
After the Golden Eagles accounted for the first seven points of the second half, Lewis then went on a scoring spree. The redshirt junior out of Memphis posted eight of the Skyhawks’ first 14 points of the stanza – as his turnaround jumper from the right block at the 11:14 mark trimmed UT Martin’s deficit from 18 points to 11.
The Skyhawks used an 8-0 run over a span of 2:48 to put themselves in prime position for a comeback. Parrish Hewitt provided a big spark with four points during UT Martin’s run.
Williams then helped the Skyhawks continually cut into their deficit, as he compiled five consecutive UT Martin points during a 44-second spurt. A Bogan take to the hoop at the 4:36 mark evened the score at 49-all.
As the momentum seemed to be swinging the Skyhawks’ way, UT Martin could not get over the hump. The Skyhawks had five consecutive trips down the floor where they could have tied or taken the lead but could not convert their chances. Bogan tacked on four points and Williams added a bucket inside with 39 seconds to go but UT Martin would not get any closer than four points over the final 1:10.
After two solid weeks on the road, the Skyhawks return home for five of their next six games. UT Martin opens its home stretch with a Thursday, Feb. 1 showdown against Austin Peay at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. The game – which is the backend of a doubleheader with the women’s team – will tip off at approximately 7:30 p.m.