RICHMOND, Ky. – Senior Heather Butler notched yet another career achievement in the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball record book as she scored a career high 44 points to defeat Ohio Valley Conference East leader Eastern Kentucky 87-65.
The Skyhawks (17-6, 10-0 OVC) won their 10th consecutive game while remaining perfect in conference play. The high scoring Skyhawks tallied 87 points on the night, the most point allowed by Eastern Kentucky on the season. Defensively UT Martin forced 20 turnovers while notching eight steals, led by three from Butler.
Offensively the night belonged to Butler who tied the Skyhawks program record with 44 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor and 14-of-15 from the free throw stripe. Two other Skyhawks scored in double figures as Jasmine Newsome tossed in 16 points and six assists while Ashia Jones tallied 12 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks in just 24 minutes of play.
“I thought we came out in the first half and the speed of the game took them out of their comfort zone,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “Overall the effort was good. I thought we let up a little bit in the second half but we were able to make the adjustments to pick up the victory. Tonight we were able to put Ashia and Jasmine in double figures while Heather produced a big night. We’re dangerous with our firepower beyond that trio.”
Eastern Kentucky (12-8, 6-3) shot 45 percent from the floor and was led by senior standout Marie Carpenter with 24 points. Carpenter was joined in double figures by Pilar Walker and Jasmine Henshaw who each tallied 10 points each.
The battle of the league’s two best teams began with a combined seven turnovers, including five by the Lady Colonels. Despite the turnover margin, the Skyhawks were able to outscore the Lady Colonels 9-4 in the opening four minutes of play. Jones, battling a knee injury, scored the first six points for the Skyhawks.
The Lady Colonels and Skyhawks would each tally 10 points each over the ensuing four minutes of play as both Henshaw and Carpenter tossed in four points each to lead EKU. Butler would score seven points during the stretch, continuing her career-long double figures streak to 120 consecutive games.
The Skyhawks would put together an 11-2 run going into the under-eight media break. Newsome would score six points during the run, including five free throws. During the span of free throw chances, Newsome broke the school’s long standing record for career free throws made at the 9:52 mark, passing UT Martin Hall of Famer Tara Tansil’s previous record of 564.
UT Martin would end the first half on a 15-8 run, taking a 45-24 lead into the halftime break. The Skyhawks were led in scoring by Butler who tallied 20 first half points while Newsome tossed in an additional 11 points. The Lady Colonels were led in scoring by Carpenter with eight points.
Eastern Kentucky would come out of the halftime break by outscoring the visitors 9-8 at the first media break. The Lady Colonels saw four points from Miranda Maples while Stafford tossed in five points to open the second. Butler would tally five points while Newsome added three points to cap the run.
The Lady Colonels would maintain the pressure, using a 12-10 advantage to trim the margin to 63-45 with 11:21 to play in the game. The duo of Carpenter and Henshaw would each reach double figures during the span, combining for 10 of the team’s 12 points. Butler continued to lead the offensive push for the Skyhawks, tallying seven points during the three minute span.
Both teams tallied eight points over the next couple of minutes while Carpenter led the way with eight points. Both Butler and Tiara Caldwell would notch four points to pace the Skyhawks as they led 71-53.
The Skyhawks would respond with a 13-6 run to push their lead back to 84-59 with 2:51 to play in the game. Butler would tally eight points during the run, tying the school’s single game scoring record with her 44th point at the 4:58 mark of the second. Butler tied the school’s record with teammate Newsome who tallied 44 points in the overtime victory over Quinnipiac on Nov. 16.
Eastern Kentucky would end the game on a 6-3 run but could not overcome the Skyhawks as they picked up the 87-65 victory. The Skyhawks will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 8 when they travel to OVC West rival SIU Edwardsville. Tipoff from Edwardsville is scheduled for 4 p.m.