NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball nearly pulled off a valiant comeback to overcome a 19-point first quarter deficit before narrowly falling at preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite Belmont 71-66 on Thursday evening in front of a national audience.
The Skyhawks (4-12, 1-2 OVC) dropped their seventh consecutive road contest after falling behind by as much as 19 points late in the first quarter of the contest. Both teams would exchange runs through the rest of the game before seeing UT Martin cut the margin to as close as four points down the stretch. The late push by the Skyhawks would be due in large part to a full court press which forced the Bruins into 20 turnovers.
UT Martin saw three players score in double figures led by the play of Emanye Robertson who scored a game-high 19 points while tallying three assists. Reigning OVC Freshman of the Week Ansley Eubank would join in the action with a career-high 14 points while Janekia Mason chipped in 12 points of her own to round out the trio in double figures.
Belmont (11-5, 3-0 OVC) notched its fifth consecutive victory while remaining perfect in OVC play behind a balanced offensive attack which featured four players in double figures. Reigning OVC Freshman of the Year Darby Maggard would pace the Bruins with 14 points while Sally McCabe tallied 12 points and seven rebounds. Newly named OVC Player of the Week Jenny Roy would tally a double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and six assists while Sierra Jones tossed in 11 points of her own.
The game would begin with neither team finding much separation midway through the quarter as Belmont clung to a two-point advantage with 5:29 to play. Following a brief break, Belmont would string together a powerful 18-1 run while holding UT Martin scoreless for nearly seven minutes. The Skyhawks would finally get back on the scoreboard right before the buzzer to snap the big run with a layup by Robertson. Despite the layup, Belmont would hold a 25-8 advantage after the first quarter of play.
UT Martin would look to get back into the contest in the second quarter. The Skyhawks would trim the margin down to 15 points on three different occasions before taking a 43-28 deficit into halftime.
The Skyhawks would continue their comeback attempt in the opening minutes of the third quarter. After a layup by McCabe pushed the margin back out to 15 points, UT Martin would turn up the intensity. The Skyhawks would cut into the margin behind a strong 12-0 run which held the Bruins scoreless for nearly six minutes of the contest. Despite seeing the margin reach as close as three points, Belmont would finish the quarter strong with an 8-0 run of its own to push the margin back up to 11 heading into the final quarter of play.
Belmont’s margin would reach as high as 13 points in the fourth quarter before UT Martin began its push once again. A four-point streak by Mason would bring the Skyhawks back within nine points before a three-pointer by Maggard with five minutes to play pushed the margin back out once again. The two OVC powerhouses would exchange blows over the final minutes with UT Martin getting as close as four points down the stretch before ultimately running out of time and points – dropping the contest 71-66.
UT Martin will look to get back in the win column with a trip to OVC foe Tennessee State on Saturday, Jan. 7. Tipoff from the Gentry Center is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.