JONESBORO, Ark. – The offense fired on all cylinders for the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team as the Skyhawks seized an impressive 92-78 triumph at Arkansas State this evening.
The win was the first road victory of the season for UT Martin (2-7), who established season-highs in points (92), field goal percentage (.615, 32-for-52) and free throw percentage (.917, 22-of-24) tonight. From the 13:04 mark through the 1:51 mark of the second half, UT Martin made 16 consecutive tries from the charity stripe during the contest to help seal the win.
Fatodd Lewis compiled his second double-double of the season with 23 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the Skyhawks. Matthew Butler collected 20 points with three steals while Parrish Hewitt (career-best 17 points on 6-of-6 shooting, 4-for-4 from the free throw line) and Terrence Parker (12 points) also scored in double-figures for UT Martin.
Arkansas State (2-6) was led by Deven Simms’ 33 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Rashad Lindsey and Tristin Walley scored 16 and 11 points, respectively, for a Red Wolves squad that was coerced into 18 turnovers.
“I’m elated for this team.” Skyhawk head coach Anthony Stewart said. “They have never held their heads down. We’ve had a brutal schedule – we’ve been on the road it seems like forever. We came on the road again tonight, played extremely hard and got a win that was much needed.”
A turnaround left-handed hook shot by Parker got the Skyhawks on the scoreboard at the 17:40 mark. Butler provided UT Martin its first lead six minutes into the contest when he knocked down a pull-up three-pointer from the right wing to make the score 9-7.
The Skyhawks converted three fast break layups in the span of 1:24 to push their advantage out to 15-10 with 11:52 to play in the half. Arkansas State battled back to even the score at 15-all before the lead changed hands seven times over the next 4:22.
Parker scored on back-to-back trips down the floor to nudge UT Martin ahead by a 28-26 margin. Butler then tossed in five straight points to help the Skyhawks claim a four-point lead with 4:32 remaining before the halftime intermission.
Lewis accounted for a pair of buckets while Williams (backdown layup) and Hewitt (15-foot jumper) each contributed points down the stretch to help UT Martin take a 41-39 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Skyhawks connected on 65.5 percent (19-of-29) from the floor in the first 20 minutes, led by Butler’s game-high 13 points. The Red Wolves were guided by Lindsey’s nine points in the opening stanza.
An offensive rebound and stickback by Lewis opened the scoring in the second half. Jumpers by Hewitt and Lewis helped UT Martin pad its lead out to 48-43 at the 16:42 mark.
Arkansas State trimmed its deficit to one point a little under three minutes later but the Skyhawks generated a game-changing 19-3 run over a span of 6:12. Lewis (seven), Parker (four), Williams (three), Hewitt (three) and Butler (two) each provided points for UT Martin during the run, which resulted in a commanding 71-54 lead with 7:31 remaining.
Simms scored 16 consecutive points for the Red Wolves to help Arkansas State get within nine points (79-70) with three minutes to go. However, the Skyhawks’ accuracy from the charity stripe helped UT Martin close out the win without a serious threat.
The Skyhawks play five of their next six games in the friendly confines of the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center, starting with a Sunday, Dec. 10 matchup against UC Clermont. Tipoff time is set for 2 p.m.