MARTIN, Tenn. – For more than eight minutes in the first half, The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team led No. 14 Purdue at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center Sunday afternoon. At halftime, the host Skyhawks led 29-25.
Purdue opened the second half with a 15-0 run and led, 40-29, when KK Houser canned a pair of free throws with 15:21 to play in the game. Purdue came from behind to claim a 68-60 victory over the Skyhawks.
“The difference was the first four minutes of the second half,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said. “We didn’t answer the bell.”
In the first half the Skyhawks had the nationally ranked Boilermakers on the ropes. Junior guards Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler led the way with 11 and 10 points respectively. Newsome finished the game with 21 points, while Butler scored 28 points.
UT Martin’s biggest lead of the first half was seven points with 2:29 to play. While the Skyhawks relied on Newsome and Butler to score, the effort on the boards was impressive. At one time in the first half, the Skyhawks had outrebounded Purdue 18-17.
“We can’t ask for more from Butler and Newsome,” McMillan said. “We have to find someone to take the weight off Heather and Jasmine.”
True freshman Katie Schubert helped out in the first half with a pair of 3-pointers and three rebounds. Sydney Vanlandingham, also a true freshman, grabbed four rebounds in the four minutes she played in the first half.
Butler led the Skyhawks with six rebounds, while seniors Shelby Crawford and Rickiesha Bryant, freshman Cortrice Golden and Vanlandingham had four boards each.
“We want to get rewarded for our effort, but we couldn’t quite do it today,” McMillan said. “We have to learn how to put together a full 40 minutes, not 34 or 36 minutes.”
Purdue, which is now 9-1, was led by Sam Ostarello and Taylor Manuel with 16 points each. April Wilson and Drey Mingo scored 11 points each. Ostarello and Mingo each added 10 rebounds in the game to record double-doubles.
The Skyhawks are now 4-7 on the year with four of the seven setbacks coming against Top 20 teams, Baylor (No.1); Stanford (No 4); Louisville (No. 6) and Purdue (No. 14).
“I am proud of our effort,” McMillan said. “We must find that extra bit to take our team where they need to be.”
The Skyhawks will be idle this week because of final exams, but return to action Sunday, Dec. 16, when they host Indiana State. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
“We are going to keep fighting, keep scheduling,” McMillan said. “We’ll figure it out.”