MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team left it all on the floor this evening but Arkansas State escaped the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center with a 77-73 triple overtime victory.
In a game that featured 17 lead changes and 15 ties, no team took more than a six point lead at any point in the contest. An 18-foot jumper by UT Martin’s Jeremy Washington with 0.3 seconds remaining in regulation sent the game into overtime, while Arkansas State’s Ed Townsel hit a 25-foot off-balance banked-in three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in the first overtime to extend the action. After neither team scored in the second overtime period, the Red Wolves outscored the Skyhawks 12-8 in triple overtime.
Junior guard Justin Childs led the way for UT Martin (1-3), compiling career-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds to go along with six assists, two blocks and two steals in 50 minutes. Myles Taylor picked up his second consecutive double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) for the Skyhawks, who also received outstanding efforts out of Washington (eight points, career-high 11 rebounds), Dee Oldham (career-highs of nine points, seven rebounds), Bobby Jones (eight points) and Mike Liabo (seven points).
Townsel led Arkansas State with 19 points off the bench, while Brandon Peterson (13 points) and Trey Finn (12 points) also cracked double-figures for the Red Wolves, who won despite shooting just 26.7 percent from the floor (4-for-15) in the three overtime periods.
Skyhawk head coach Jason James saw his team take a big step in the right direction this evening.
“Before the game, one of the things I wrote on the board was ‘play to exhaustion’ and we definitely did that,” James said. “We’re disappointed with the result but I’m proud of their effort and execution for most of the game. When everybody’s number was called, they answered the bell tonight. There’s a process to learning how to win – I don’t know that we’re there yet but I think we showed that down the stretch.”
UT Martin held a 10-4 lead early thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Jones and Childs. The Red Wolves responded with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game with just under 14 minutes to play in the first half.
Six unanswered points by the Skyhawks soon tilted the score back in UT Martin’s favor (24-21) with 6:13 remaining in the first half, but Arkansas State closed out the first half on an 11-4 run to lead 32-28 at the break.
A trifecta by Myles Taylor at the 18:13 mark of the second half capped off a 6-2 run to start the second half, tying the game at 34-all. The Skyhawk defense then held Arkansas State without a field goal for a stretch of 6:19, allowing a layup by Childs at the 11:38 mark to give UT Martin a 40-39 advantage.
Arkansas State soon retook the lead, but four straight points by Childs and a thunderous dunk by Taylor at the 5:57 mark gave the Skyhawks a 53-48 lead.
However, the Red Wolves pieced together nine straight points to go on top 57-53 with 1:38 to play. An old-fashioned three-point play by Taylor – combined with Arkansas State hitting one of two free throws on the other end – set up Washington’s clutch jumper that resulted in the 12th tie of the evening.
Childs accounted for five of UT Martin’s seven points in the first overtime period, but Townsel’s three-pointer – Arkansas State’s lone field goal of the five-minute period – lengthened the game.
Fatigue perhaps set in during double overtime, as the two squads combined to go 0-for-12 from the field as the game progressed into a third overtime.
Arkansas State led by three early in triple overtime, but that was matched by a Jones trey at the 4:02 mark. The Red Wolves took a four-point lead before Liabo sank a three-pointer to get UT Martin back within one (72-71) with 90 seconds left to play. However, Arkansas State answered with a three-pointer of its own and after a Liabo layup, the Red Wolves made a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining to conclude the scoring.
UT Martin wraps up its three-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 20, when it faces Lyon College at 7 p.m. at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.