JONESBORO, Ark. – The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team received a game-high 18 points out of Marshun Newell this evening but ultimately it wasn’t enough, as Arkansas State claimed a 72-62 win over the Skyhawks in the Convocation Center.
Along with his career-high 18 point performance, Newell also pulled down a career-best seven rebounds to lead the team in rebounds. The Memphis, Tenn. native also swiped a pair of steals for the third straight game to begin the season for UT Martin (0-3).
Terence Smith registered a season-best 16 points and seven rebounds for the Skyhawks, who outrebounded Arkansas State by a 47-36 margin tonight.
For Arkansas State (2-0), Kirk Van Slyke accounted for 16 points while Melvin Johnson III (15 points), Cameron Golden (13 points) and Brandon Reed (10 points) also reached double-figures for the Red Wolves, who have claimed the Sun Belt West division championship two of the last three years.
“We only made two 3-pointers and that’s not who we are,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “It’s kind of fitting – we made shots the last two games so you knew a game like this was coming. We were getting good looks, we just weren’t able to make them.”
UT Martin started off the game with five unanswered points, as Newell, Smith and Javier Martinez each accounted for points on the Skyhawks’ first three possessions. A 15-foot Smith jumper gave UT Martin the 7-3 edge at the 17:47 mark before Arkansas State took its first lead with 16:03 to play in the first half during the midst of an 8-0 run.
After a pair of free throws by Smith closed the scoring gap to two points, the Red Wolves would go on an 11-2 run to go on top 22-11 with 11:12 remaining in the half.
The Skyhawks then answered right back with a 10-2 run over a span of 1:20, ignited by six straight points by Newell. Arkansas State would convert a pair of free throws at the 6:08 mark but UT Martin came right back with six unanswered – including a pair of buckets by Smith – to reclaim the lead at 29-28 with 4:42 to play before the break.
Arkansas State would respond with a 10-2 run to close out the half, taking a 38-31 lead into the locker room.
Smith and Johnson each had 12 points to lead their respective teams in the game’s first 20 minutes.
A trio of layups by three different Skyhawks led UT Martin on a 6-2 run to begin the second half. A pair of free throws by Newell and a fast break layup by Martinez sliced the Skyhawk deficit to just one point at 42-41 with 17:21 remaining in the contest.
The Red Wolves then came back with nine unanswered points to go ahead by a 51-41 margin at the 15:28 mark. After Arkansas State took an 11-point advantage, Newell heated up to get the Skyhawks back within single digits with five points over a stretch of 1:23 to make the score 57-50 with just under 11 minutes remaining.
Arkansas State then accounted for six straight points to push its lead out to 63-50 with 6:50 to go. The Red Wolves led by 16 points with 2:35 to go but UT Martin kept fighting, slicing its deficit to 10 points with 12 seconds to go. However, time ran out on the Skyhawks.
After starting the season with three straight road games, UT Martin will hold its home opener this Friday, Nov. 15 when it takes on Rochester College at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. The game, which serves as a “Character Counts” game for local elementary, middle and high school students, is set to tip off at 11 a.m.