March 15, 2018

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The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team saw its season come to a close in the first round of the Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday night, falling to Big Ten foe Indiana, 74-50, on the road.

The Skyhawks finish the season with a 19-15 overall record in a year in which the squad notched the program’s seventh postseason appearance in the last eight years.  

UT Martin struggled for much of the contest, shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor, but it was a rough second half which proved to be the difference in the ballgame. After trimming the once double-figure deficit down to five points heading into halftime, the Hoosier would outscore the Skyhawks 33-14 in the second half to advance into the second round.

Sophomore Kendall Spray closed out her record-setting season with a strong performance, scoring a team-high 18 points on the evening while knocking down four three-pointers. With the quartet of trifectas, Spray finishes her sophomore campaign with a school-record 125 three-pointers on the season which ranks in the top-five nationally. Joining Spray in double figures was junior Myah Taylor with 10 points off the bench.

“I was really proud of our kids in the first half,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said. “I thought we competed and made them really work for things. Then we came out of halftime and we just didn’t compete. I am disappointed in the second half because that’s just not who we are. This game is so fragile. We had them on the ropes and just let it slip right through our hands in the final 20 minutes.”

“With that said, this was an unbelievable season given our injuries and everything we have had to go through. Getting to the postseason and winning 19 games is a testament to how hard these kids worked. They really want UT Martin to be successful and I tip my cap to them.”

Indiana improved to 18-14 on the season behind a strong shooting night in front of an impressive crowd. The Hoosiers would shoot 54 percent from the field while placing four players in double figures. Freshman Jaelynn Penn scored a game-high 25 points while Amanda Cahill flirted with a double-double by tallying 14 points and nine rebounds. The squad was rounded out in double figures by Tyra Buss with 14 points while Kym Royster tossed in 10 points of her own.

The Hoosiers would come out aggressive, scoring the first seven points of the contest through the opening three minutes of action. Sitting in a hole, the Skyhawks would charge back to tie the game with back-to-back buckets by Mason before a backdoor cut by Spray tied the game a 7-7. From there Indiana would take control to hold a 23-14 lead after the opening quarter of play.

UT Martin would cut into the lead in the second quarter behind the strong play of Taylor who scored eight points off the bench. At the second quarter media, the Skyhawks had outscored the Hoosiers 15-9 to trim the team’s deficit down to three points with three minutes to play in the first half. With the strong play in the quarter, UT Martin would head into halftime trailing Indiana by just five points.

Indiana came out in the second half looking to take control right away. The Hoosiers would outscore the Skyhawks 20-7 in the third quarter to take an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter. The pair of Penn and Cahill would play a big role in the quarter, combining to score 14 of the team’s 20 points in the segment.

The Skyhawks would make a final run to try and get back into the contest in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter, trimming the 18-point margin down by six points following a layup by Maddie Waldrop with 5:07 to play. The run would not be enough however as the Hoosiers responded accordingly by finishing the game on a 12-0 run to seal the team’s first round victory and advance to the next round by a final score of 74-50.

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