MARTIN, Tenn. – Terence Smith piled up a game-high 22 points for the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team today but the Skyhawks dropped an 87-82 decision to SIU Edwardsville at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The Skyhawks led by as many as 11 points midway through the first half but SIU Edwardsville shot 68 percent in the second half to complete its comeback.
Smith’s 22 points were one point shy of his season-high set against Jackson State on Nov. 22. He sank eight of his 10 shot attempts – including four 3-pointers and two free throws. It was the seventh 20-plus point performance in the career of the redshirt junior out of Russellville, Ala.
Dee Oldham set new career-highs with 16 points and four 3-pointers for UT Martin (7-16, 2-6 Ohio Valley Conference). Myles Taylor added 15 points and a game-high six rebounds while Mike Liabo added 12 points off the bench for the Skyhawks, who shot 52.5 percent (31-for-59) in the contest.
SIU Edwardsville (7-14, 4-4 OVC) was led by Kris Davis’ 20 points. Keaton Jackson scored 17 points while Donivine Stewart (15) and Maurice Wiltz (14) also cracked double-figures in the scoring column for the Cougars.
UT Martin led 6-2 early but SIU Edwardsville came back to claim an 11-8 advantage with 15 minutes to go before halftime. The Skyhawks then reeled off 11 unanswered points to go ahead by a 19-11 margin with 11:28 remaining in the first half.
A layup by Smith at the 9:34 mark gave UT Martin its biggest cushion of the day at 24-13. However, the Cougars pieced together a 15-3 run to take a lead with 5:51 left to play before the halftime break. A pair of three-pointers by Smith gave the Skyhawks two more leads before the half but it was SIU Edwardsville who clang to a 34-33 halftime lead.
Smith and Taylor each had eight points to pace UT Martin in the first 20 minutes, while Davis had nine points to lead the Cougars.
Smith converted a tough layup to begin the scoring in the second half, tilting the score back in the Skyhawks’ favor at 35-34. Moments later, SIU Edwardsville responded with a 12-4 run to go on top by a 53-43 margin with 13:45 to go in the contest.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Oldham got the Skyhawks back within seven points but SIU Edwardsville accounted for six quick points to make the score 64-51 with 10:11 remaining.
UT Martin kept chipping away – eventually slicing its deficit to six points when a Javier Martinez layup made the score 69-63 with 6:44 to go. The Cougars would then score six straight points to go back ahead 75-63 with less than five minutes to play.
The Skyhawks got back in the game late – trimming their deficit to just four points (86-82) thanks to a long three-pointer by Oldham, but the comeback attempt came up just short.
UT Martin now heads back to the road for four straight games, starting with a Jan. 30 matchup at Eastern Kentucky. Tipoff from McBrayer Arena is set for 6 p.m. CST.