EVANSVILLE, Ind. – In a preseason poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team has been predicted to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference standings as announced at the conference’s annual media day. The Skyhawks picked up two first place votes while wrapping up 198 points overall. Senior Ashton Feldhaus, sophomore Kendall Spray and junior Myah Taylor were also named to the league’s preseason All-OVC squad.
The voting panel picked Belmont as the preseason favorite while the Bruin duo of Darby Maggard and Sally McCabe shared the league’s Preseason Player of the Year honors. The Skyhawk trio were joined on the Preseason All-OVC team by Maggard, McCabe, Kylee Smith (Belmont), Ke’Shunan James (Murray State), Grace Lennox (Eastern Illinois), Yaktavia Hickson (Tennessee Tech), Donshell Beck (SIUE) and Miranda Crockett (Morehead State).
UT Martin is coming off a season in which the team posted a 12-19 overall record while posting an 8-8 record in league play to garner a fourth place finish. The Skyhawks enter the season under the direction of two-time OVC Coach of the Year Kevin McMillan, who not only ranks as the program’s all-time winningest coach but as the league’s active leader. As a team, UT Martin returns all five of the team’s top scorers from a season ago - along with the return of one additional sophomore - while welcoming seven newcomers into the fold.
Hailing from Richmond, Ky., Feldhaus posted a strong campaign in her debut season with the Skyhawks, earning All-OVC second team honors. Feldhaus averaged 11.0 points while leading the team with 5.1 rebounds per game. She was no stranger to OVC awards during the regular season, earning OVC Newcomer of the Week on six occasions along with OVC Player of the Week on Jan. 31.
Feldhaus tallied 18 games in double figures – including 10 games with 15 points or more while leading the team in scoring four times. Her best outing came against Austin Peay where she tallied 23 points and nine rebounds while also eclipsing the 20-point plateau against Eastern Illinois (21 points) and Southeast Missouri (20 points). She notched her first career double-double at Murray State, tallying 19 points and 11 rebounds – ranking as an individual season high for the Skyhawks. She closed out the season by averaging 18.1 points per game over the final 11 regular season contests.
A native of Lebanon, Tenn., Spray became the program’s third OVC Freshman of the Year after leading the Skyhawks with 12.5 points per game – ranking as the league’s highest scoring freshman. Spray burst onto the scene by ranking as one of the nation’s top three-point shooting threats by ranking 27th nationally in three-point field goals per game (2.87) and 30th in three-point field goals made (89). She also broke the program’s previous freshman single-season three-point record of 84 while ranking tied for sixth on the school’s overall single-season list.
Spray tallied 19 games in double figures – including 11 games with 15 points or more while leading the team in scoring 10 times. Her best outings came against Eastern Illinois where she scored a career-high 33 points while tossing in 29 points at Tennessee State and 26 points at Southeast Missouri. She also tallied seven games with at least five three-pointers – including finishing one short of the program’s single-game record against Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri. Spray is just the fourth freshman in program history to earn All-OVC honors.
A native of Dyersburg, Tenn., Taylor improved upon her freshman campaign where she earned All-Newcomer honors by elevating herself to the All-OVC second team as a sophomore. Taylor averaged 12.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while serving as the team’s primary sixth-man down the stretch despite starting in 13 games.
Taylor tallied 20 games in double figures – including nine games with 15 points or more while leading the team in scoring eight times. Her best outing came against Southern Illinois where she scored a career-high 25 points while also eclipsing the 20-point plateau against Jacksonville State (23 points) and Austin Peay (23 points). She also tallied 10 games with at least three made three-pointers – including a career-best six against Jacksonville State.
The 2017-18 campaign kicks off on Monday, Nov. 6 when UT Martin plays host to Lindsey Wilson College in the Elam Center for an exhibition affair with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff. The Skyhawks will then officially open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 10 when they travel to Southern Illinois with tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m.
2017-18 OVC Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
1. Belmont (22) - 242
2. SIUE - 199
3. UT Martin (2) - 198
4. Morehead State - 192
5. Tennessee Tech - 133
6. Austin Peay - 120
7. Jacksonville State - 111
T8. Murray State - 101
T8. Southeast Missouri - 101
10. Eastern Kentucky - 83
11. Eastern Illinois - 64
12. Tennessee State - 38