MARTIN, Tenn. – When the No. 16 seed University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team tips off against No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Sunday, March 24 in its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, it will not only have something that the Fighting Irish does not have, but no other team in the nation can boast: two top-10 scorers in the nation in Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler.
Newsome enters the postseason tied for fourth in the country with 22.9 points per outing, while Butler’s average of 22.0 points per game rank in a tie for seventh.
The numbers that the junior duo has recorded in their UT Martin careers are mind-boggling. Since suiting up for the Skyhawks in 2010-11, Newsome and Butler have accounted for over half of UT Martin’s points (55 percent) during its three-year championship run. Butler is already the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,074 points, with Newsome (1,943) not too far behind. To put that in perspective, no other program has had a pair of 2,000 point scorers on the same team at the same time in the Ohio Valley Conference since 2002.
Earlier this season, Butler became the first Skyhawk to crack the 2,000 career point plateau. The Medina, Tenn. native has tallied double-figures in all 96 career games played and currently holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer (79). A three-time All-OVC first teamer, she led all freshman scorers in the nation with 19.0 points per game in 2010-11 and has now ranked in the top-10 nationally in back-to-back seasons (23.8 points per game as a sophomore, fourth; 22.0 points per game as a junior, seventh).
For Butler’s career, she has scored more than 20 points in 54 games, including nine 30-point performances and a pair of 40-point outings her sophomore year. She is responsible for the UT Martin single-game record of 42 points set against Tennessee State on Jan. 30, 2012.
Meanwhile, Newsome has been named OVC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Her scoring output has increased every year, as she averaged 17.6 points as a freshman, 19.6 as a sophomore and now pours in 22.9 points on a nightly basis – which ranks fourth in the country.
The Millington native has scored in double-figures in 88 of her 97 career games, including the 20-point barrier 49 different times. Newsome has gone off for 30-plus points 10 times in her career with one 40-point game to her credit. That game came in the 2013 OVC Tournament quarterfinals against Eastern Kentucky, when she tossed in 41 points on her way to Tournament MVP honors and setting the Tournament record for most points scored (98, in three games).
Without a doubt, one of the nation’s best backcourts belongs to UT Martin as the duo will look to make some noise in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.