November 23, 2016

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The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team battled former Ohio Valley Conference foe Samford from start to finish before ultimately dropping the road contest 69-62 at the Pete Hanna Center.

The Skyhawks (1-4) closed out their four-game road swing through three states with an afternoon matinee on the eve of Thanksgiving. Down three players due to injury, the short-handed Skyhawks battled runs throughout the afternoon while limiting the offense to a season-low 15 turnovers. The Skyhawks would force seven turnovers in the final quarter of play but could not get over the hump.

Sophomore guard Emanye Robertson posted a career performance for the second time in the last three games. Robertson paced the Skyhawks with 19 points while tallying seven assists and four steals. Two other players scored in double figures for the squad as Ashton Feldhaus tallied 14 points to go along with six rebounds while Kendall Spray tossed in 11 points.  

Samford (2-3) snapped a brief two-game losing streak behind a powerful shooting performance which saw the team shoot 58.7 percent from the floor. Three players scored in double figures while Hannah Nichols tossed in a game-high 24 points off the bench. Kassidy Blevins ranked second on the team with 15 points while Samantha Fitzgerald posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs would serve as unfriendly hosts in the opening three minutes of the game, jumping out to a quick 10-2 lead. After the shock wore off for the Skyhawks, the squad would respond with an 8-3 run of their own to trim the deficit to one point heading into the first media timeout. The Skyhawks would come out of the break looking to make a stand as Myah Taylor gave the squad their first lead of the contest to set up a 15-2 run over the final six minutes of the quarter. With a pair of strong runs to lean on, UT Martin would hold a 22-16 lead heading into the second quarter.

Samford would quickly make a move in the opening minutes of the second quarter to overcome a six-point deficit. The Bulldogs began the quarter on a 14-5 run heading into the first media break. After not only taking the lead, the Bulldogs would stay aggressive – stringing together an 11-0 run through the final minutes en route to a 41-31 halftime advantage. Blevins (14 points) and Fitzgerald (11 points) would lead the Bulldogs in scoring while Robertson’s eight points paced the Skyhawks.

UT Martin would begin to scratch back in the first five minutes of the third quarter. Three forced turnovers and timely shooting would result in a 10-2 run for the Skyhawks to trim a 10-point deficit down to just two. With 2:51 to play in the quarter, the Skyhawks would take their first lead since early in the second off a fast break layup by Robertson. Despite the run, UT Martin would still trail 52-49 heading into the fourth.

Both teams would play even through much of the fourth quarter. Samford would push its lead out to as high as eight points on a pair of occasions down the stretch. The Skyhawks would battle, forcing seven turnovers in the final quarter to cut the margin to as close as four points before ultimately falling 69-62.

UT Martin will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday before returning home to host Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt on Sunday, Nov. 27. Tipoff from the Elam Center is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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