LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock natives Myles Taylor and Jeremy Washington combined for exactly half of The University of Tennessee at Martin’s points tonight, but the Skyhawks dropped an 84-68 decision to Arkansas-Little Rock in the 2012-13 season opener.
Taylor finished with a game-high 24 points for UT Martin, while Washington tallied 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. The duo – playing in front of approximately 50 members of family and friends – helped the Skyhawks lead by five points late in the first half and get within five points with under 4:30 remaining in the game before the Trojans closed out the game on a 16-5 run.
“Jeremy kept us in the game early by making some tough shots,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “Once Myles got going, he was pretty good. He got to the free throw line and that was good to see.”
Terence Smith also cracked double-figures with 10 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds for the Skyhawks, who hit 84.6 percent of their free throw attempts (21-for-24) this evening.
Arkansas-Little Rock was led by 22 points by John Gillon and 18 points by James White off the bench. Will Neighbour (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Taggart Lockhart (10 points) also reached double-digits in the scoring column for the Trojans.
UT Martin matched Arkansas-Little Rock for the majority of the game but the Trojans put together a pair of runs to end each half that ultimately came back to hurt the Skyhawks.
“We went through a stretch where we got really tired and couldn’t call enough timeouts,” James said. “During that stretch, the lead ballooned and I think that ended up being the difference in the basketball game.”
A jumper by Mike Liabo at the 18:55 mark gave UT Martin its first points of the season. However, that would be the last points scored for the Skyhawks until Washington gave the team a lift off the bench. Within 40 seconds after checking into the contest, Washington canned a pair of long jumpers and later added another jumper to help UT Martin go on an 11-0 run over a span of 3:48 to take a 13-11 advantage.
The two teams would then swap leads before the Skyhawks put together another lengthy run – this time scoring 10 unanswered in a little over three minutes to surge on top by a 29-24 margin.
However, over the final 2:33 of the first half, the Trojans accounted for 15 of the last 18 point scored to take a 39-32 advantage into the locker room.
At the break, Taylor and Washington each had eight points apiece to lead UT Martin, while Gillon paced Arkansas-Little Rock with 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
Taylor was responsible for the Skyhawks’ first 10 points in the second half – including a crucial old-fashioned three-point play with 15:24 remaining to slice UT Martin’s deficit to 47-40.
Seven minutes later, Arkansas-Little Rock went on a brief 6-0 spurt to take its biggest lead of the game (67-50) with 8:01 left to play.
UT Martin then positioned itself back into the game by clamping down on the defensive end, holding the Trojans without a field goal for a stretch of 3:50 during a 13-1 run.
With the Skyhawks trailing only 68-63 with 4:23 to go, Arkansas-Little Rock scored 10 unanswered until a layup by Taylor ended the drought. Bobby Jones would add a three-pointer with 54 seconds to make the score 80-68, but that would be the last of UT Martin’s points as the Skyhawk comeback came up just short.
The Skyhawks will return to action on Sunday, Nov. 11 when they travel to No. 24 Cincinnati of the Big East Conference. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.