TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Hot shooting and defensive adjustments were the key for the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team as it knocked off Southeastern Conference foe Alabama, 75-57, on the road Wednesday night.
The Skyhawks (6-3) shot an incredible 49 percent from the floor while the defense forced an impressive 22 turnover to upset Alabama. It was the senior tandem of Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome who lifted the Skyhawks with a combined 40 points.
Butler tallied a game-high 22 points while Newsome, celebrating her birthday, notched 18 points on the evening. As a team, the Skyhawks placed eight players in the scoring column while Katie Schubert lead the remaining six with nine points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks to cap her impressive evening.
“We were able to get a big road win against a program which is starting to get thing going, which has been hard for us to do to this point, is a great win for our program,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “Any time you are able to knock off an SEC team by 18 points, you have to be happy. We made a spurt in the first half where we went with five guards, despite being undersized. Katie had a great night, playing in an unfamiliar spot in the middle of the zone, but provided major minutes for us. It wasn’t necessarily a pretty win for us but any BCS win, on the road, by the margin that we did it by, you’ll take it every single day.”
Alabama (3-5) was paced by Ashley Williams who led the way with a team-high 18 points. Daisha Simmons joined Williams in double figures with 11 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Skyhawks looked into the middle early in the game, as Ashia Jones tallied four of the Skyhawks first six points in the ballgame. It was the length of the Crimson Tide which would cause problems early for the Skyhawks however, jumping out to an early 7-6 lead at the 15:22 break.
UT Martin was able to take over the lead in the 13thminute off a three-pointer by Butler, leading 12-9. Butler would cap off the 8-4 run with a jumper at the 12:10 mark to take a 14-13 lead into the media break.
Alabama used an 8-4 run over the next four minutes to take a 21-18 lead into the 7:25 media break.
The Skyhawks continued to leave their mark on the game over the final minutes of the first half. After regaining the lead and using an 11-5 run to spurt a key offensive stretch, the Skyhawks led 29-26 at the 3:29 mark of the first.
UT Martin sustained their hot shooting and stingy defense, holding Alabama scoreless in the first half’s final four minutes of play. In addition to Newsome’s personal 6-0 run, the Skyhawks scored 12 unanswered points to close out the first on a 12-0 run and with a 41-26 lead.
The Skyhawks were led by Newsome’s 11 first half points while Butler tossed in 10 points of her own. Schubert and Masengil trailed with six points as the Skyhawks placed seven in the scoring column. Alabama was paced by Williams with 11 points.
Much like the first half, the Skyhawks controlled the opening minutes of second half, limiting the Crimson Tide to just four points. The Skyhawks continued to lead 47-30 at the first media break of the second half.
Alabama began to scratch away at the Skyhawk lead into the second half, using a 10-5 run over the next four minutes. The Crimson Tide run trimmed the Skyhawk advantage to just 11 points at the 11:53 mark of the second.
The Skyhawks were able to counter the Alabama run, outscoring the Crimson Tide 8-7 over the next three minutes. It was freshman Tiara Caldwell who paced the Skyhawks during the stretch, scoring five of the team’s eight points.
UT Martin used another 10-7 advantage over the next several minutes to stretch its lead back to 15. It was Newsome once again who led the Skyhawks, tallying five points over the stretch to give the UT Martin the 70-55 lead with just 3:49 to play.
The Skyhawks would eventually outlast the host, closing out the game with a 5-2 advantage down the stretch, winning 75-57.
UT Martin will be back in action on Sunday, Dec. 8 when it travels to Missouri Valley Conference foe Illinois State. Action from Redbird Arena is schedule for 1 p.m.