EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team picked up its third consecutive victory with an 82-72 road win at Ohio Valley Conference rival SIUE on Saturday evening.
The Skyhawks (9-17, 6-7 OVC) remained hot by climbing the OVC league standings after winning its fifth game in the last six outings. With the win, UT Martin moves into a three-way tie for seventh play in the team’s quest for a berth in the upcoming OVC Tournament. The squad overcame a tough obstacle after losing the battle of the boards by draining 12 three-pointers on the evening while forcing their opponent to commit 13 turnovers.
Five different players scored in double figures for UT Martin, led by the play of All-OVC senior guard Jessy Ward with a season-high 22 points – including five three-pointers. Myah Taylor almost eclipsed the 20-point plateau, tossing in 19 points while posting a team-high eight rebounds. Janekia Mason (13 points), Kendall Spray (12 points) and Emanye Robertson (10 points) also scored in double figures.
“We did two or three good things to cap off the victory, but we continually get beat on the boards,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “We have to clean that up. I give them credit though because once again, they figured out how to win. I think the needed a big game from Jessy because without her performance tonight, I don’t think we can come out of this game with a win. She knocked down a couple of big shots which were complete game-changers. This is a good team to beat on the road because it is such a tough place to play. Like I said before, give them credit because they came out of here with a big road victory.”
SIUE (10-16, 6-7 OVC) dropped the decision despite winning the battle of the boards by 17. The Cougars shot just 39 percent from the floor while three players scored in double figures. Nakiah Bell tallied a team-high 18 points while Amri Wilder scored 17 points of her own. Donshell Beck flirted with a double-double, tallying 11 points and eight rebounds.
The first quarter would play out slowly, with just 23 points scored between the two points combined. With the game tied at six points apiece midway through the quarter, SIUE would be held scoreless for over three minutes before finally finding the bottom of the basket again. After breaking the scoreless streak, the Cougar would go on a 7-0 run to close out the quarter and take a 14-9 advantage into the second quarter.
UT Martin would look to find some continuity in the second period as Ward opened the quarter with a three-pointer to cut the deficit down to two. After the game would reach a tie once again, the Skyhawks would string together a 15-2 run to take a nine-point lead with just under four minutes to play. The visitors would stretch their lead out to as high as 10 points in the period before taking a 34-26 lead into halftime.
Both teams would go toe-to-toe in the third quarter, scoring 21 points each. SIUE would charge back to cut UT Martin’s lead down to just four points midway through the quarter. The Skyhawks would hold tough however, outscoring the Cougars by four points down the stretch to take a 55-47 advantage into the final quarter of play.
The Skyhawks would put the game in cruise control down the stretch, countering each mini-run the Cougars would throw at them. SIUE would trim the margin to as close as five points on a pair of occasions but three-pointers by Taylor and Ward, respectively, would stretch the lead back out. UT Martin would ultimately watch the team’s lead reach as high as 11 points in the final minutes before notching an 82-72 victory.
UT Martin will look to build upon the team’s third consecutive victory when traveling to Southeast Missouri on Saturday, Feb. 18. Tipoff from the Show Me Center is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.