December 30, 2013

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JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – For the first time since 2001, the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team opened Ohio Valley Conference play on the road with a 88-75 victory over OVC East foe Jacksonville State at Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The Skyhawks (8-6, 1-0 OVC) wasted little time getting its first conference victory, keyed in large part by forcing 24 turnovers and shooting 50 percent from the floor. Notching a season-high 18 steals, the Skyhawks scored 24 point off turnovers while notching 48 points in the paint.

Offensively it was senior Jasmine Newsome which dominated the game, scoring 25 points while dishing out 11 assists and recording five steals. Classmate Heather Butler scored 14 points to continue her career-long streak of games in double figures to 111. Freshman forward Tiara Caldwell tied a career-high with 13 points. Overall, the Skyhawks placed all 10 players in the scoring column, including six players scoring five or more points.

“I thought you saw a team that could be very dominant,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “At times in this game, we showed that we could be a very good, dominant team. We are still trying to find that balance and consistency to finish a team off, which we are still struggling to do.”

Jacksonville State (3-11, 0-2) shot an impressive 46 percent from the field. The Gamecocks were led in scoring by Candace Morton with 22 points and five assists. Morton was joined in double figures with Destany McLin and Miranda Cantrell. McLin tallied 14 points and seven rebounds while Cantrell tossed in 12 points and seven rebounds.

The Skyhawks opened the game with a 10-7 advantage as four Skyhawks jumped into the scoring column. Newsome led the Skyhawks with four points in the break.

The Gamecocks put together a small run of their own, using an 8-7 advantage over the next four minutes of play. Of the Gamecocks first five field goal, each made basket was by a different player.

The Skyhawk defense forced five turnovers over the next three minutes while stretching out a 15-8 run. Keyed in large part by the play of Caldwell, who tallied four points to highlight the run, five Skyhawks scored field goals to push their lead out to 33-23 with eight minutes to play in the first.

UT Martin continued to cause problems for the home team, forcing an additional five turnovers while scoring six points off those turnovers. Led with five points from Newsome, Ashia Jones and Shai Warfield-Cross each tallied four points over the five minute span. Putting together a 17-10 run, much of the Skyhawks success came in the low post, scoring 14 points in the paint.

Jacksonville State outscored the Skyhawks 5-3 over the final two minutes of the first place as the Skyhawks took a 53-38 lead into the halftime break. Newsome led all scorers with 13 points while Caldwell trailed with nine points and a game-high four rebounds. The Gamecocks were led in scoring by Morton’s nine points while McLin closely trailed with eight points and three rebounds.

The Gamecocks opened the second half with a 7-6 advantage, doing the bulk of their damage on the boards by pulling down seven rebounds during the stretch to extend offensive possessions. Cantrell led the way with four points for the Gamecocks.

The Skyhawks would outscore the Gamecocks 6-5 over the game’s next three minutes led by Newsome. Newsome tallied her 20th point and 10th assist during the span to give the senior her second double-double of the season.

UT Martin used a 13-8 run, covering nearly seven minutes of play to extend its lead out to 78-58 with 5:50 to play in the game. During the run, hampered by foul trouble, Butler checked back into the game before tallying a quick four points to place the senior in double figures for her 111th consecutive game.

The Skyhawks continued to push the margin in the OVC opener with an 8-4 run over the ensuing three minutes of play. Butler added four points before finding Caldwell for the easy layup, putting the freshman in double figures for the third time this season.

The Gamecocks closed out the game on a 13-0 run, as Morton chipped in five points while McLin tossed in four points to lead the run. The run would prove to not be enough for the Gamecocks as the Skyhawks wrapped up the OVC opening road victory, 88-75.

UT Martin will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 4 when it travels to OVC West rival Murray State. Tip-off from the CFSB Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.