January 6, 2018

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MARTIN, Tenn. –
The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team took an early lead and never looked back as the squad notched its first road victory of the season with a 97-80 win over Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State.

The Skyhawks (6-10, 2-2 OVC) picked up their second OVC win of the young season by scoring the highest total output against a Division I opponent this season with 97 points. UT Martin would shoot over 53 percent from the floor in the contest while tying in the battle of the boards.  

Four Skyhawks scored in double figures led by the play of sophomore sharpshooter Kendall Spray who scored a game-high 24 points while tallying six rebounds and three assists. Trailing close behind was fellow Preseason All-OVC selection Ashton Feldhaus who scored 19 points – including going a perfect 8-of-8 from the field - while notching five rebounds and three assists. Rounding out the quartet in double figures was the play of Chelsey Perry (13 points) and Emanye Robertson (12 points).

“Most of that second half is probably the first time this season that I would have paid money to come watch us play,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “We played hard. We got after it. Those are things we haven’t done all year. The bad part is, we went through several parts of the game where we just quit. You have to have guts to play the way we are going to run our program. It was refreshing to see some of the effort our kids gave, but for us to be our best, we have to sustain that.”

Murray State (5-10, 1-3 OVC) dropped its third consecutive conference matchup despite posting three players in double figures. Forward Brianna Crane paced the Racers with 21 points and six rebounds while the duo of Ke’Shunan James (18 points, seven rebounds) and Bria Bethea (13 points) also scored in double figures.

The Skyhawks would jump out to an early lead, stringing together a 10-0 run punctuated by a three-pointer by Feldhaus, forcing the Racers to burn their first timeout. After a second called timeout by the Racers, the home squad would respond nicely with a 15-2 run of their own to trim the deficit to two points. Both teams would hit three-pointers to keep the score at a two-point margin as UT Martin held onto a 20-18 lead heading into the second.

Murray State would take its first lead of the game with just over six minutes to play in the second quarter following a five-point swing by Bethea. The lead would change hands twice before the Skyhawks began to find its groove, posting a 7-0 run to push the margin back out to double figures with just under two minutes to play. After a strong finish to the half, UT Martin would take a 46-36 lead into the break.

UT Martin came out of halftime strong, putting together a 9-0 run over 80 seconds to push the margin out to as large as 19 points. Murray State would trim the margin back down to 13 points with 1:10 to play in the quarter. Needing to put some distance between the two squads, the Skyhawks scored a season-high 36 points in the third by making their final six shots of the quarter to take an 82-63 advantage into the fourth.

Both teams would combine to score 32 points in the fourth quarter while UT Martin struggled to make just one of 10 shot attempts down the stretch. Despite the scoring drought, the contest would never be in question as the Skyhawks pulled away with a 97-80 victory.

UT Martin will return to action in the Elam Center against OVC foe Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, Jan. 11. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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