EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Javier Martinez continued his dominant stretch of play this afternoon as the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball squad posted an 80-73 Ohio Valley Conference road victory at SIUE.
Martinez, who was named adidas OVC Player of the Week on Monday, collected his ninth double-double of the season with 23 points and 15 rebounds in 38 minutes of play. It was the fifth time this season that the senior from St. Croix Virgin Islands scored at least 20 points in a game for the Skyhawks, who improve to 18-10 (8-5 OVC).
Jacolby Mobley overcame a tough shooting night to score 21 points, making 13 of his 14 free throw attempts to go along with a career-high six assists. Jalen Jackson (11 points, four assists, career-high six steals) and Fatodd Lewis (10 points in 14 minutes) also scored in double-figures for UT Martin.
SIUE (5-22, 0-13 OVC) received a game-high 25 points out of Burak Eslik while Jalen Henry (16 points) and Keenan Simmons (10 points) also contributed to the Cougar attack.
“It was a total team effort today,” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “Javier is really playing at a high level right now and Jacolby attacked the basket today while getting to the free throw line. We also had some guys come off the bench and play really well – it was good for us to get back on the winning track.”
SIUE scored the first six points of the game before Martinez accumulated seven points in a 60-second span for the Skyhawks, capped off with an old-fashioned three-point play at the 16:46 mark. A little under a minute later, Dante Bailey swished a trey from the left wing to even the score at 10-all.
Jackson knocked down a trifecta from the left wing at the 12:08 mark to provide UT Martin with its first lead of the contest at 17-16. Four more ties followed before the Skyhawks opened up a 29-25 advantage after a pair of Martinez free throws.
The lead would change hands four more times in the first half before UT Martin’s defense stepped up by not allowing SIUE to score a field goal over the final 3:09. As a result, the Skyhawks took a 39-36 lead into the break.
Martinez already reached a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in the opening half while SIUE was led by Eslik’s 10 points.
Martinez accounted for a pair of open layups in the first 52 seconds of the second half, extending UT Martin’s advantage out to 43-36. The Cougars closed within two points at the 14:11 mark but a Lewis left corner three-pointer and another Martinez layup pushed the Skyhawk lead back out to seven points.
UT Martin’s advantage remained at seven points after back-to-back takes to the hoop by Mobley. SIUE then pushed back to trim its deficit to one point (58-57) at the 8:21 mark but Mobley scored seven consecutive points for the Skyhawks to push UT Martin’s lead back out to six points.
The Skyhawks held a narrow 65-63 lead with 3:34 to go but Chandler Rowe came up with a pair of big plays down the stretch. The senior from Atlanta, Ga. dropped in a leaner while being fouled to give UT Martin a 71-67 lead with 1:37 remaining. A little under a minute later, Rowe converted a tough reverse layup on the Skyhawks’ next trip down the floor to essentially seal the win.
UT Martin wraps up its final road trip of the season on Saturday, Feb. 18 when it travels to Southeast Missouri. Tipoff time from the Show Me Center is scheduled for 11 a.m.