MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team never trailed in its contest against Ohio Valley Conference East member Belmont, picking up the 82-53 victory in the team’s first home game since late November.
After spending the past 10 games on the road, the Skyhawks (11-6, 4-0 OVC) notched their own piece of history in their first home game since Nov. 25. With the victory over the Bruins, the Skyhawks became the first team in program history to start conference play with a 4-0 mark.
UT Martin won nearly every statistical category while shooting an impressive 57 percent from the floor and tallying 21 assists on 35 field goals. Eight Skyhawks scored in the contest while three players scored in double figures. Heather Butler led the way for the Skyhawks with 22 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Reigning OVC Freshman of the Week Ashia Jones tossed in 17 points while Katie Schubert rounded out the trio with 11 points.
“I thought that we saw effort from our kids pretty much the whole game,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “There were only about three to four minutes in which I thought our effort was lacking but the other 36 minutes were pretty good. I was very pleased with our effort and believe it was the best defensive game which we have had in quite some time.”
Belmont (6-12, 3-2 OVC) shot just 32 percent from the field while committing 15 turnovers. The Bruins were led with 18 points by Jordyn Luffman. Overall, nine players scored in the game for the Bruins.
The Skyhawks jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before Belmont tallied their first basket on an offensive putback. Holding a slim 6-2 advantage, the Skyhawks took the four point lead into the first break of the game.
Jones went on a personal 6-0 run for the Skyhawks, paired with a three-pointer by Newsome, forcing Belmont to call a timeout. Outscoring the Bruins 9-3 over the span, the Skyhawks would hold a 15-5 advantage with 11:41 to play in the first.
The duo of Butler and Newsome led the Skyhawks on their next run, outscoring the Bruins 9-5. Butler added four points while Newsome chipped in three points to lead the Skyhawks. UT Martin held the 24-10 lead, the largest lead of the game, with 7:57 to play in the half.
Belmont put together an 8-2 run to begin the next span as Luffman chipped in four points before Butler would end the run with a perfect trip to the free throw line. After a small mini run for the Skyhawks, Belmont would outscore the home team 8-6 over the stretch.
The Skyhawks would cap off the first half by outscoring the Bruins 9-7. The trio of Butler, Newsome and Schubert each tallied a three-point field goal as the Skyhawks took a 39-25 lead at the half. Butler led all scorers with 13 points while Newsome chipped in nine points. Belmont was led by Luffman who tallied 12 points and a team-best five rebounds.
The second half began much like the first, with both teams coming out aggressive. The Skyhawks would outscore the Bruins 13-9 to open the game, led by six points from Elizabeth Masengil while Jones chipped in four points as well.
Both teams scored four points each during the next three minutes span, with Luffman scoring each of Belmont’s four points. The Skyhawks would retain the 56-38 lead with 11:29 to play.
The Skyhawks would put together a 7-2 run over the next several possessions. During the run, Cortrice Golden scored her first field goal since suffering a season-ending knee injury last season along with Schubert tallying a three pointer to reach double figures.
UT Martin went to its reserves with three minutes to play and leading 74-51. Golden would make an impact in her return to the rotation, scoring six of the Skyhawks 10 points to finish with eight points and four rebounds in six minutes of action. UT Martin would wrap up the game with a final score of 82-53.
The Skyhawks will be back in action on Monday, Jan. 13 when they play host to OVC West rival Southeast Missouri. Tip-off from game one of the doubleheader is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.