MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team received a game-high 23 points out of junior Mike Liabo this evening, but the Skyhawks fell 75-62 to Samford at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Tonight’s game was the 10th time in Liabo’s career that he had registered 20 or more points. He tied a career-high with five 3-pointers this evening and added team-highs of four assists and three steals for UT Martin (3-9).
Sophomore Myles Taylor added 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds for the Skyhawks, who led by as many as seven points in the first half. Justin Childs scored nine points and Jeremy Washington tallied seven points, five rebounds and four assists for UT Martin, who outrebounded Samford by a 30-28 margin.
Samford (3-10) was led by Will Cook’s 18 points, while Raijon Kelly (16 points), Tim Williams (16), Clide Geffrard, Jr. (11) and Connor Miller (10) also reached double-figures for the Bulldogs.
The Skyhawks held a pair of early leads before Samford scored six unanswered to take a 9-4 lead. UT Martin soon would bust out for a 14-2 run over a stretch of 4:30, capped off by five straight points by Liabo.
UT Martin held the lead up until Samford evened the score at 20-all with 7:47 left before the half. A steal and coast-to-coast layup by Childs at the 7:20 mark pushed the Skyhawks back on top 22-20 but the Bulldogs responded with a 7-0 run. A conventional three-point play by Washington sliced UT Martin’s deficit to two but Samford took a 36-30 at the half.
Childs and Cook each had nine points to lead their respective teams at the break. The Skyhawks shot 55 percent (11-for-20) in the first half.
Early baskets by Liabo and Washington kept UT Martin within four in the early stages of the second half, but Samford scored eight straight points to go on top 46-34 with 14:51 remaining.
A pair of Jones free throws with a little over 11 minutes left to play got the Skyhawks within 10 points (50-40). Samford answered with two straight three-pointers before UT Martin caught fire from three-point range late in the game.
Liabo sank four trifectas and Dee Oldham added another in a span of 2:38 to help the Skyhawks get within single-digits (67-58). However, UT Martin wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.
The Skyhawks now have 10 days off until opening Ohio Valley Conference play at Southeast Missouri. Tip-off from the Show Me Center on Dec. 29 is scheduled for noon.