MARTIN, Tenn. – Junior forward Myles Taylor chalked up a career-high 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds for the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team tonight, but the Skyhawks let a late lead slip away in an 80-76 loss to Southeastern Louisiana at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Taylor’s offensive effort eclipsed his previous career-high of 31 points at Kennesaw State on Feb. 14, 2012. In addition to his scoring output, he also tied a career-high with 11 field goals made in 22 attempts while knocking down 12 of his 14 free throw attempts. His double-double was the second of his season and 12th in the career of the Little Rock, Ark. native.
Terence Smith scored 12 points and tied a career-high with seven assists to go along with three steals for the Skyhawks (5-10). Justin Childs sank five of his six shots on his way to 12 points off the bench for UT Martin, who led 74-69 with 4:30 to go before Southeastern Louisiana ended the contest on an 11-2 run.
Southeastern Louisiana (4-6) was led by Onochie Ochie’s 18 points off the bench. Antonnio Benton (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Joshua Filmore (12 points) also cracked double-figures in the scoring column for the Lions.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes, the Skyhawks committed only five turnovers but two occurred in the final 2:40 when it was a one-possession game.
“We were up by five late and gave the game away by turning the ball over,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “We didn’t execute very well down the stretch. We made two turnovers in the last two minutes when we were trying to make a plays that weren’t there. We will go back to the drawing board and try to keep getting better.”
A pair of Taylor free throws at the 19:13 mark led to the first points of the game on either side. Southeastern Louisiana led by six points (14-8) with just under 14 minutes to play in the first half but Childs created a spark with back-to-back layups to get the Skyhawks within two points at 16-14 at the 11:59 mark.
The Lions then scored five unanswered points to go back ahead by seven points. Southeastern Louisiana led 30-21 with 7:33 left to play in the first half before the Skyhawks used a 12-3 run to even the score at 33-all when Liabo canned a jumper in the paint at the 3:44 mark.
The two squads would swap buckets in the final stretch of the first half until an old-fashioned three-point play by Taylor with four seconds remaining provided UT Martin with a 45-44 advantage it would take into the halftime break.
Taylor’s 22 points more than doubled any other scorer at the half, while Ochie accounted for 10 points to lead Southeastern Louisiana in the first 20 minutes.
Southeastern Louisiana took an early lead to start the second half but UT Martin quickly reclaimed the advantage on a Taylor jumper with 18:03 left to play. Eight lead changes and three ties would follow over the next 3:37 until a three-pointer by Childs made the score 57-55 in the Skyhawks’ favor with 14:26 remaining.
UT Martin would then hold the lead for nearly seven minutes until the Lions took a 67-66 lead at the 7:28 mark. Taylor came right back to sink two free throw opportunities on the Skyhawks’ next possession to give UT Martin a lead it would hold on to for the next 4:44.
The Lions tied the game at 74-74 with a free throw at the 2:24 mark and Southeastern Louisiana converted four straight free throws before Marshun Newell made a layup with five seconds to go to slice the Skyhawk deficit to two points at 78-76.
Southeastern Louisiana would miss the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation but the Skyhawks could not come down with the ball cleanly and Benton made it a two-possession game with a layup with one second left.
The Skyhawks will now take a break to enjoy Christmas before beginning Ohio Valley Conference play with a three-game road swing, starting with a Dec. 30 matchup at Jacksonville State.