SKYHAWK WOMEN OPEN OVC SCHEDULE WITH JACKSONVILLE STATE
December 29, 2012
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team opens Ohio Valley Conference play at 2 p.m.Monday afternoon at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center when it hosts Jacksonville State.
The non-conference slate for the Skyhawks has rendered itself as one of the toughest in the country and the most vigorous in school history. The Skyhawks have played four teams – Baylor, Stanford, Louisville and Purdue – which have been or still are among the top 15 in the nation. Despite coming up short to all four nationally ranked powers, the Skyhawks turned in a more than respectable effort.
Junior guard Heather Butler averaged 25.2 points per game against Baylor, Stanford, Louisville and Purdue.
The rest of the non-conference slate was equally impressive with teams from the Big 10, the Atlantic 10, the Southland, the Sun Belt, the Southeastern Conference, the Missouri Valley and Conference USA. The Skyhawks managed to put together a 5-9 worksheet with victories over Arkansas State, Evansville, Central Arkansas, Saint Louis and Southern Miss.
“I am proud of our effort,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said after the eight-point loss to Purdue. “We must find that extra bit to take our team where they need to be.”
The perfect position for the Skyhawks would be to finish first in the OVC’s West Division, win the league’s postseason tournament and claim a third consecutive berth in the NCAA Tournament in March.
Making the run to the postseason will be difficult for the Skyhawks who have already felt the effects of injuries to two of their freshmen Cortrice Golden and Ashley Bassett-Smith. Golden injured her knee and will miss the rest of the season, while Bassett-Smith has missed most of the non-conference slate with an illness.
“It will be a slow process, but it is not like we started four years ago because we have five kids who have won two championships, but it is starting over, trying to figure out how to fit a team together,” McMillan said. “Right now it is going to take some time to get all those pieces to work in harmony.”
Time is up. Jacksonville State comes to Martin with a 0-13 worksheet and including a 73-51 defeat by Tennessee Tech to open their OVC schedule Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks are led by Briana Morrow with 8.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game along with Miranda Cantrell’s 8.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.
“We are going to keep fighting …” McMillan said. “We’ll figure it out.”
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