Junior Heather Butler had no trouble getting acclimated to the Ford Center, Evansville’s two-year-old off-campus arena. She rattled off 16 consecutive points before missing twice. She redeemed herself by making a 3-pointer with :03 to play in the first half. She led all scorers at halftime with 19 points, seven field goals, four 3-pointers and a free throw.
Butler finished the game with 23 points to lead The University of Tennessee at Martin to a 73-57 victory over Evansville. Junior guard Jasmine Newsome scored 18 points, while senior Rickiesha Bryant netted 13 points.
“We fought back against Louisville Monday night, but that same fight wasn’t there tonight,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said. “We did enough in the first half but must continue in the second half.”
Evansville was led by Samantha Heck with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Khristian Hart scored 14 points.
With the victory, the Skyhawks improve to 2-5 on the young season. Evansville falls to 2-4.
Butler missed her first five attempts from the field in the second half, but scored her 1500th and 1501st career points when she made two free throws with 5:09 to play in the game. The Gibson County product wrapped up her scoring effort with a short jumper with 1:40 to play in the contest.
While Butler and Newsome’s offense led the way for Skyhawks, it was junior Megan White’s defense and rebounding that made a big difference in the game. Newsome and White led the Skyhawks with eight rebounds each.
“Megan is one of the best defenders. She’s tough, hard-nosed and capable of shooting 7-for-10,” McMillan said “Her defense overshadowed her rough shooting night. She plays hard and gives a good effort.”
After the lead changed four times and the score was tied three times, Butler made a 3-pointer with 12:37 to play in the first half and the Skyhawks took a 16-12 advantage and never looked back.
The Skyhawks closed out the half with a 25-16 run and led 41-28 at the break.
With 7:25 to play in the game, Evansville’s Hart knocked down a 3-pointer and just 10 seconds later Heck made a layup to cut the Skyhawk lead to 15 points, 63-48. However, the Skyhawks countered with a 7-0 run and led 70-48 with 3:53 to go.
The Skyhawks will return to action when they host Central Arkansas at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Common foes – Evansville have four common foes this season. Both the Skyhawks and the Purple Aces will play Murray State, Eastern Illinois, Saint Louis and Indiana State.
Big time opponents –While the Skyhawks have already played Baylor, Stanford and Louisville, Evansville has played at Wisconsin and will play at Ohio State. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State are members of the Big Ten. UT Martin opened the 2012-13 season at Northwestern, also a member of the Big Ten.
Three of a kind –The Skyhawks game at Evansville marked the first of three games against teams from the Hoosier State. The Skyhawks will play Purdue and Indiana State. The Skyhawks will also play three teams from Illinois (Northwestern, SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois) and Missouri (Missouri, Saint Louis and Southeast Missouri State).
From long range –UT Martin senior Shelby Crawford has at least one 3-point attempt in six of the Skyhawks first seven games. She did not attempt a trey this past season as a junior and had four attempts as a sophomore.