November 13, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team seized control early in the first half and staved off a late UT Rio Grande Valley run to win its home opener, 88-80, at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.

Four Skyhawks scored in double-figures today, as Jacolby Mobley sank four treys on his way to a team-high 20 points. Kedar Edwards was responsible for his seventh career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a career-best seven assists.

Fatodd Lewis tallied 15 of his career-best 17 points in the first half while Matthew Butler pitched in 14 points. Chandler Rowe also had a great all-around game with seven points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists (against zero turnovers) for UT Martin, who led for 37:45 of clock time while improving to 1-1 on the season.

UT Rio Grande Valley (0-1) was led by Xavier McDaniel, Jr., who scored 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Antonio Green and Nick Dixon scored 20 points and 16 points, respectively, for the Vaqueros.

“We weathered the storm,” said Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart, who earned his first career victory this afternoon. “Every team makes a run but we just want to make sure that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing on the offensive side and on the defensive side. One bright side was that when the score was tight with about three to four minutes to go, our execution on the offensive end was good and we were able to get key stops, go to the foul line and knock them down.”

Javier Martinez got the Skyhawks going with a layup on the opening possession of the contest. McDaniel then scored UT Rio Grande Valley’s first eight points as the Vaqueros claimed a brief 8-7 advantage four minutes into the game.

The Skyhawks followed with three-pointers on their next four scoring possessions, as Mobley (twice), Lewis and Rowe all connected from deep range in the span of two minutes. Moments later, Mobley added a pair of free throws to cap off a 14-0 run that provided UT Martin with a 21-8 lead.

UT Rio Grande Valley got back within single-digits but Lewis carried the Skyhawks for a stretch, as the redshirt sophomore out of Memphis tossed in eight straight points for UT Martin. Another bucket by Lewis at the 3:07 mark padded the Skyhawk lead to 15 points before UT Martin settled for a 50-36 advantage at the halftime break.

Lewis’ 15 points led all scorers at the half, as the Skyhawks shot 63 percent (17-for-27) and knocked down seven of their 11 attempts from three-point range in the first 20 minutes. McDaniel, Jr. amassed 13 points to lead UT Rio Grande Valley.

Just as he did to begin the game, Martinez muscled up for a layup to start the second half scoring. His bucket with 19:41 remaining extended UT Martin’s lead to 52-36 – the biggest advantage of the day.

However, the Vaqueros whittled their deficit down to just four points thanks to a 14-2 run. Malik Pugh temporarily stopped UT Rio Grande Valley’s run with a backdoor layup but an old fashioned three-point play by McDaniel made the score 56-53 at the 13:43 mark.

Mobley answered with five straight points, followed by two straight buckets by Edwards to help the Skyhawks push their lead out to 65-56 midway through the half.

A jumper by Lewis with 8:37 left to play made the score 69-58 in favor of UT Martin but the Vaqueros had one last run in them. UT Rio Grande Valley went on a 10-1 run over a stretch of 2:04, trailing by a 75-71 margin with 4:19 to go.

On the Skyhawks’ ensuing possession, Mobley swished a clutch trifecta to take the wind out of the Vaqueros’ sails. Edwards then closed out the game strong, scoring seven of UT Martin’s final 10 points down the stretch.

The Skyhawks continue their three-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 15 when they host in-state NAIA rival Cumberland. Tipoff time from the Elam Center is set for 7 p.m.