CHARLESTON, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team picked up its first Ohio Valley Conference victory at Eastern Illinois since 2008 with a 93-69 win over the host Panthers on Senior Night.
The Skyhawks (21-7, 14-1 OVC) forced 20 turnovers on the night, leading to 31 points, while shooting 57 percent from the floor. The victory is the first win at Eastern Illinois since Jan. 10, 2008 while notching the first series sweep over the perennial OVC contenders since 2004.
UT Martin was led in scoring by senior guard Heather Butler who tallied a game high 29 points. Butler was one of four Skyhawks to score in double figures. Freshman Ashia Jones tallied her fourth consecutive 20-point outing with 22 points and 10 rebounds, marking her 12th straight game to score in double figures. The duo was joined by Jasmine Newsome who tallied 17 points, six assists and five steals on the night while sophomore Katie Schubert was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc for 12 points.
“This is obviously a tough place to play considering that we have never won here since I took over, combined with it being their senior night, we knew we were in for a battle,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “We opened the game with a lot of intensity and we were just a couple free throws away from blowing the game open early. Our intensity coming out of the second half was what we were looking for and I thought that Ashia was key in getting us going early. Certain individuals are playing better and we will take this win on the road and continue to get prepared for next week’s OVC Tournament.”
The Panthers (12-14, 7-8 OVC) shot 51 percent from the floor but were plagued by turnovers. Four players scored in double figures for the home team, led by the play of senior Morgan Palombizio who tallied 18 points. Sabina Oroszova joined in the action with 15 points and 15 rebounds while Katlyn Payne and Jordyne Crunk tallied 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Eastern Illinois opened the game with a three-pointer from the right corner before the Skyhawks responded by scoring 13 unanswered points. Butler knocked down a pair of three-pointers to give the Skyhawks the 13-3 lead before the Panthers called a timeout with 16:19 to play in the first.
Butler would reach double figures during the next sequence, tallying five points to stretch her active NCAA double figures streak to 125 consecutive games. Eastern Illinois would outscore the Skyhawks 8-7 during the upcoming stretch, but the Skyhawks would retain the lead 20-11.
Newsome put the team on her back on the ensuing four minute span, tallying all seven of the team’s points. Despite Newsome’s performance, the Panthers outscored the visitors 9-7 to trim the Skyhawk advantage to 27-20 with 7:49 to play in the first.
Eastern Illinois kept creeping back into the game by putting together a 7-5 advantage going into the under-four media timeout. The Panthers got four points from Palombizio while Payne knocked down a trifecta to cut into the lead.
UT Martin would take a 38-31 lead into the break. The Skyhawks had two players in double figures led by Butler who tallied 13 first half points. Butler was joined by fellow senior Newsome who tallied 11 points and swiped four steals in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Panthers were led in scoring by Palombizio who tallied eight points while Oroszova finished with six points and 10 rebounds at the break.
Almost identical to the beginning of the game, Eastern Illinois knocked down the first shot of the half with a three-pointer. The Skyhawks would respond by stringing together 10 unanswered points before EIU called a timeout to stop the momentum.
The Skyhawks would keep up the pressure, forcing five turnovers before stretching their run out to 17 unanswered points until Crunk knocked down a free throw at the 16:27 mark. Jones would play a big part in the Skyhawk 21-6 run, tallying eight points in the opening four minutes of the second half.
Both teams would catch fire over the next four minutes, scoring 18 points each. During the span, Jones and Schubert joined the tandem of Butler and Newsome in double figures. Butler tallied 10 points, placing her in the 20-point plateau for the 11th time in the last 14 games. Eastern Illinois had four players reach double figures during the stretch, led by five points from Oroszova.
The Skyhawks would outscore the Panthers 7-4 going into the final media of the game with a 87-63 lead. During the run, Jones would tally five points to tally her 12th consecutive game in double figures and fourth consecutive game with 20 points or more.
As both benches were cleared, the Skyhawks walked away with the 93-69 road victory. UT Martin will return to action on Saturday, March 1 when they play Austin Peay at 2 p.m. The Skyhawks will close out the regular season portion of the schedule at home. Four seniors will be recognized before the game as Butler, Newsome, Megan White and Tabitha Causey will partake in Senior Day activities.