COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team received double-digit scoring outputs from four players this evening at Tennessee Tech, but the Skyhawks fell 83-68 at the Eblen Center.
Myles Taylor led the Skyhawks with 15 points in 21 minutes as he battled foul trouble for the majority of the night. Mike Liabo scored 12 points and added a team-high six rebounds, while Bobby Jones (12 points off the bench) and Terence Smith (10 points) also reached double-figures in the scoring column for UT Martin. Justin Childs added nine points, five rebounds and a game-high two steals for the Skyhawks (7-19, 4-10 Ohio Valley Conference), who outrebounded Tennessee Tech 34-33 tonight.
Tennessee Tech (10-16, 4-10 OVC) was led by Dennis Ogbe’s 23 points, while Jud Dillard added 21 points. Jeremiah Samarrippas and Javon McKay added 14 and 11 points, respectively, for the Golden Eagles.
“We got down early but we were able to get it to 10 at halftime,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “I thought today the first five minutes of the second half decided the ballgame. Our bench players gave us a lot of energy towards the end of the first half to get us back in the game but we missed a couple of layups and the game got away from us.”
A jumper by Taylor just 26 seconds into the contest gave UT Martin an early lead and after the Golden Eagles scored four unanswered, Smith had a stick-back to knot the score at 4-all.
From there, Tennessee Tech went on a 10-0 run over the next 4:28 to go on top 14-4 until a Liabo basket off an offensive rebound got the Skyhawks back within single-digits. The Golden Eagles then pieced together a 14-4 run to go ahead by a 28-10 margin with 5:33 to play before the halftime break.
UT Martin quickly got back in the game thanks to a barrage of three-pointers. Liabo canned a deep trey at the 5:09 mark and soon thereafter, the Skyhawks went on an 8-0 run to slice their deficit to 30-21 with 3:21 remaining in the first half. A thunderous dunk and three-pointer by Justin Childs capped off UT Martin’s run.
A stepback three-pointer by Liabo with two minutes to play before the break made the score 32-24. Tennessee Tech added a bucket with just over 90 seconds to play to give the Golden Eagles a 34-24 lead at the half.
Samarrippas had 11 first-half points to lead Tennessee Tech, while Liabo’s eight points paced the Skyhawks at the break.
Tennessee Tech scored seven of the first eight points of the second half before Taylor nailed a three-pointer from the left wing at the 18:17 mark. The Golden Eagles would extend their lead out to 20 before Taylor ignited a Skyhawk run. The sophomore scored seven of UT Martin’s points during a 9-3 run to allow the Skyhawks to get within 14 points (57-43) at the second media timeout.
However, Tennessee Tech responded with an 8-2 run out of the timeout to push its lead out to 68-48 with 7:39 remaining. UT Martin then put together six unanswered points on the way to a 9-1 spurt that made the score 69-57 with 4:17 left to play. Jones accounted for six points during the Skyhawk run.
UT Martin would get within 13 points on three different occasions with under 2:15 to go but that was ultimately as close as it would get the rest of the way.
The Skyhawks return to the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center for the final time this season when they host Longwood on Saturday, Feb. 23. The game – part of the 11th annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters series – will tip off at noon.