PINE BLUFF, Ark. – In a back-and-forth affair, the shorthanded University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team dug deep for a 73-68 victory on the road at Arkansas-Pine Bluff this evening.
Playing without its leading scorer and rebounder because of injuries, UT Martin improved to 7-2 on the season after gritting out a win in a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes.
Kedar Edwards took over the game in the second half before finishing with career-highs of 25 points and seven steals to go along with three assists and a block in 39 minutes. Fatodd Lewis finished with 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds while Matthew Butler tacked on 13 points, hitting four 3-pointers in the win. Malik Pugh pitched in with a career-best six assists while making his first start of the season for the Skyhawks.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-6) was led by Joe’Randle Toliver’s 19 points while Ghiavonni Robinson provided 14 points for the Golden Lions, who made 12 three-pointers but committed 18 turnovers.
“It was a hard-fought game,” UT Martin head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Tonight wasn’t our night on the glass and we could have done a little better at the free throw line but we went on the road against a team that was hungry for their first Division-I win and we came out on top. We needed Kedar to be Superman tonight, especially with two starters out. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
UT Martin fell into a 6-0 hole early but rallied by scoring 12 unanswered points. Lewis provided the first six points before Edwards and Butler canned three-pointers on back-to-back possessions.
Butler added two more three-pointers in the span of 41 seconds to keep the Skyhawks ahead. The Golden Lions briefly took a pair of leads before another Butler trifecta at the 7:55 mark pushed UT Martin back ahead by a 23-22 margin at the third media timeout.
The Skyhawks faced another one-point deficit before unreeling 11 unanswered points. Edwards accounted for seven points while Malik London chipped in four points during the spurt as UT Martin built up a 34-24 lead with 4:43 to go before the halftime break.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff then wrapped up the first half on a 14-3 run to take a 38-37 advantage into the locker room at the half.
UT Martin shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) in the first half, as it was led by Butler (12 points) and Edwards (10 points). Toliver guided the Golden Lions with 14 points in the opening stanza as each team connected on seven 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
Chandler Rowe began the scoring in the second half, muscling up for a contested layup at the 19:19 mark to tilt the score back in favor of the Skyhawks. Dante Bailey helped UT Martin keep the lead with an old-fashioned three-point play with 16:30 left to play.
Edwards then took over the game, scoring four points in the span of three seconds to break a 46-46 tie. The senior out of Brooklyn, NY accumulated 11 of UT Martin’s 16 points in the span of six minutes, including a pair of thunderous dunks to help the Skyhawks take their biggest lead of the night at 11 points.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Robinson closed the UT Martin advantage to 59-54 but a strong take to the hoop by Rowe gave the Skyhawks a 64-56 lead with four minutes to play.
UT Martin had to weather a ferocious Arkansas-Pine Bluff comeback attempt, as the Golden Lions closed to within a single point twice in the final 2:25. However, the Skyhawk trio of Edwards, Jalen Jackson and Butler combined to make seven of 10 free throws down the stretch.
UT Martin returns home on Sunday, Dec. 4 when it takes on the Boyce College Bulldogs, a National Christian College Athletic Association squad based out of Louisville, Ky. Tipoff time from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is set for 2 p.m.