YouTube: Postgame Highlights
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team mounted a large comeback attempt in the final minutes but Austin Peay escaped the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center with a 59-57 win this evening.
The Skyhawks (8-16, 3-8 Ohio Valley Conference) trailed by 17 points in the first half but sliced their deficit to one point on four different occasions in the second stanza. However, UT Martin could not overcome its deficit even though both teams concluded the game with the exact same field goal percentage (.310), each shooting 18-of-58 from the floor.
Fatodd Lewis collected his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three steals for the Skyhawks. Matthew Butler was responsible for 11 points while Mike Fofana hauled in a career-best 12 rebounds for UT Martin.
Austin Peay (13-10, 8-3 OVC) was led by Averyl Ugba’s 28 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks. Dayton Gumm (10 points) was the only other double-digit scorer for the Governors, who were forced into 15 turnovers by the Skyhawk defense.
“We did some things towards the end to get ourselves to fight, scratch and claw back in the game but we just fell short,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Austin Peay is a rugged team that plays tough and physical. We dug ourselves a double-digit hole in the first half but we came out and gave our best effort in the second half. We’ve been doing a good job defensively – we just need to get our offense clicking.”
The Governors accounted for the first four points of the game until a three-pointer by Delfincko Bogan put the Skyhawks on the scoreboard at the 19:02 mark of the first half. Austin Peay scored the next five points but a driving Bogan layup made the score 10-8 with 14:27 left to play before the halftime break.
Moments later, the Governors pieced together an 8-0 run that resulted in a 22-10 UT Martin deficit. The Austin Peay lead grew to 17 points at 32-15 before the Skyhawks closed out the half on a roll.
Butler (three-pointer), Lewis (fast break bucket) and Fofana (jumper in the paint) took care of the UT Martin offense as the Skyhawk defense held the Governors scoreless over the final 4:30 of the half. As a direct result of UT Martin’s 7-0 run, the Skyhawks were able to shave their deficit down to 32-22 at the intermission.
Four UT Martin players scored at least four points in a balanced first half scoring attack, led by six points out of Butler. Ugba was a one-man wrecking crew in the first 20 minutes, chalking up game-highs of 17 points and seven rebounds for the Governors.
Lewis began the scoring in the second half with a jumper in the paint at the 18:55 mark. Austin Peay was still able to keep a double-digit lead (38-27) with 15:19 to go but the Skyhawks soon began to whittle their deficit once again.
UT Martin pieced together a 14-4 run over a span of 5:48, ending with a Jailen Gill layup at the 9:07 mark that tightened Austin Peay’s gap to just one point at 42-41.
Most of the scoring over the next near-six minutes came from the charity stripe, as 11 of the next 13 points on both ends came via the free throw line.
A bucket inside by the Governors with 3:18 to go made the score 52-46 in Austin Peay’s favor but Butler answered a little over a minute later with a trifecta from the left wing to make the score 52-49. Lewis added a jumper and Darius Thompson chipped in a pair of free throws to pull the Skyhawks within one point with 42 ticks left.
Ugba and Lewis swapped layups before Ugba made two free throws with 5.5 seconds to go, upping the Governor lead to 58-55. UT Martin inbounded the ball to Butler, who was fouled with three seconds on the clock. Butler was true on both free throw attempts before the Skyhawks elected to foul Gumm, who made the first free throw but missed the second. Lewis secured the rebound and threw up a desperation heave that was on target from 75-feet out but landed just short.
UT Martin will have a quick turnaround before its next outing, as the Skyhawks play host to Murray State on Saturday, Feb. 3. Tipoff time from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is set for 6 p.m., following the women’s game as part of an OVC doubleheader.