MARTIN, Tenn. – It took 50 minutes to decide a victor in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center this evening, as the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team pulled away in double overtime to notch an 82-71 Ohio Valley Conference win against Eastern Illinois.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes, the Skyhawks made big plays down the stretch to improve to 13-8 overall with a 3-3 conference mark.
Jacolby Mobley set a new career-high with 28 points while logging all 50 minutes tonight for UT Martin, who shot 88.9 percent (8-of-9, including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range) in the two extra periods.
Kedar Edwards collected 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals for the Skyhawks while Javier Martinez (12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) accumulated his fourth double-double of the season. Matthew Butler added 15 points to go along with five assists to round out the double-digit scorers for UT Martin, who was playing in its first multiple overtime contest since a triple overtime bout against Arkansas State on Nov. 16, 2012.
Eastern Illinois (9-10, 1-5 OVC) was held to 39.2 percent shooting and a 17.9 percent effort (5-of-28) from three-point range. Montell Goodwin had 20 points while Patrick Muldoon and Ray Crossland scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the Panthers.
“We had a ‘never say die’ attitude and we were resilient,” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “We came together when we needed to in crunch time. This crowd was big time tonight – they gave us that sixth man edge with their enthusiasm. Our guys got a little winded but they got their adrenaline going and we pulled it out.”
Mobley accounted for 12 of UT Martin’s first 15 points of the game but Eastern Illinois was able to open up a 13-point lead midway through the first half.
The Panther advantage was trimmed to eight points with just under six minutes to go in the opening stanza but the Skyhawks soon used a 12-3 run to take a 31-30 lead after an old-fashioned three-point play by Edwards.
Eastern Illinois briefly went back ahead but a Butler trifecta with 35 seconds to go provided UT Martin with a 34-33 edge at the halftime break. Mobley (15 points) and Goodwin (10 points) led their respective teams in scoring over the first 20 minutes.
The Panthers scored the first 10 points of the second half before a Chandler Rowe 18-foot jumper ended the Skyhawk drought at the 15:39 mark. Eastern Illinois soon went back ahead by a 46-36 margin but four different UT Martin players chipped in with points during a 10-0 run that evened the score at 46-all with eight minutes to go in regulation.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Edwards and Butler helped the Skyhawks keep pace down the stretch. After a pair of clutch free throws by Rowe tied the game at 56-56 with 1:14 remaining, Edwards came away with a steal and thunderous dunk 20 seconds later to push UT Martin on top, 58-56.
Eastern Illinois answered with a bucket but two contested three-point attempts by the Skyhawks in the final 13 seconds sent the game into overtime.
The Panthers struck first in overtime but Mobley poured in five of UT Martin’s six points in the period. His three-pointer at the 1:47 mark resulted in the Skyhawks’ first and only lead in the first overtime but Eastern Illinois made two free throws with 1:15 to go that deadlocked the score at 64-all. Both teams could not convert offensively in the final minute, as Rowe swatted away a potential game-winning shot with two seconds left.
Martinez provided the Skyhawks the early momentum in the second overtime, as he tallied UT Martin’s first six points of the stanza. Butler and Mobley followed by splashing triples on consecutive trips down the floor to expand the Skyhawk lead to double-digits. Another Martinez layup with 1:03 to go gave UT Martin its biggest lead of the night at 79-66.
The Skyhawks will look to wrap up an undefeated three-game homestand when they play host to OVC West rival SIUE on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tipoff is set for approximately 6 p.m., following the UT Martin women’s basketball contest that begins at 4 p.m.