MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team gave a valiant effort this evening but Austin Peay made enough plays down the stretch to claim a slim 88-85 win at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The Skyhawks conclude the 2013-14 campaign with an 8-23 overall record and 3-13 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Before the game, UT Martin recognized its five seniors for their career contributions. Those same five – Mike Liabo, Justin Childs, Bobby Jones, Pierre Mopo and Omari Minor – served as the starters and helped the Skyhawks build an 11-0 lead through four-plus minutes of the contest. The score was knotted at 38-all at the half before Austin Peay outgunned UT Martin by a 50-47 margin in the final 20 minutes of play.
Terence Smith registered his ninth career 20-point performance tonight, tallying 20 points while sinking five of his nine field goal attempts (including four 3-pointers) and adding a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the charity stripe. Dee Oldham continued his recent scoring surge with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting (4-for-7 from three-point range).
Jones, Liabo and Myles Taylor each added nine points apiece to lead UT Martin, who made 11 three-pointers. It marked the sixth time the Skyhawks had knocked down double-digit trifectas in a single game this year.
Austin Peay (12-18, 6-10 OVC) was led by Travis Betran’s game-high 32 points. Chris Horton accumulated a double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds while Will Triggs scored 14 points for the Governors.
Pierre was influential in the Skyhawks’ hot start – scoring a career-high six points to go along with four rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the game’s first 4:11.
Austin Peay battled back to tie the score at 13-13 at the 11:24 mark and took its first lead (17-15) with 10:06 remaining in the first half. The Governors led by six (22-16) before back-to-back Smith three-pointers tilted the score back in UT Martin’s favor at 24-22.
The two teams would combine for five ties and five lead changes over the final seven minutes of the first half.
Smith’s 12 first half points led the Skyhawks while Horton tallied 14 points to pace Austin Peay.
The Governors scored six of the first eight points of the second half but Liabo then heated up – scoring nine straight points for UT Martin to give the Skyhawks the lead back.
UT Martin held the lead for nearly three-and-a-half minutes until Austin Peay took a four-point lead with just under 13 minutes left to play.
Oldham then went off for the Skyhawks, pouring in eight straight points to give UT Martin a 63-61 lead midway through the second half.
An 8-0 Austin Peay run resulted in a 74-67 Governor lead with 7:04 remaining but the Skyhawks kept chipping away, eventually taking an 81-80 lead when Jones sank a fast break three-pointer at the 2:14 mark.
Austin Peay would reclaim the lead 28 seconds later and although the Skyhawks would get within one point on two more occasions but the Governors made all eight of their free throws with under two minutes to go.