November 19, 2013

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JONESBORO, Ark. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team led by as many as 25 points in the second half and withstood a late Arkansas State rally to defeat the Red Wolves by a 75-66 margin at the Convocation Center.

The Skyhawks led early thanks to remarkable accuracy from beyond the three-point arc. UT Martin made 12 three-pointers in the game, setting a new Convocation Center record for most treys by a visiting team.

Heather Butler stuffed the statsheet with 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals for UT Martin, who improves to 3-1 on the season. Jasmine Newsome recorded a double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds) to go along with four assists for the Skyhawks.

Aundrea Gamble chipped in a game-high 30 points while Jane Morrill (11 points) and Hanna Qedan (10 points) also cracked double-figures in the scoring column for Arkansas State (2-1), who finished second in the Sun Belt Conference West division last year.

“This is a very, very good Arkansas State team – this is probably the best road win I have had since I have been at UT Martin,” Skyhawk head coach Kevin McMillan said. “I thought we did some things really well early in the game and early in the second half but when Arkansas State turned into fight mode, we backed off. We’re going to have to do a better job of that. We showed glimpses of what we really can do, but we have to figure out how to do that for 40 minutes.”

A three-pointer by Butler got the Skyhawks on the scoreboard at the 17:21 mark. That trey began a 9-2 run that gave UT Martin its first lead of the contest after Katie Schubert knocked down a three-pointer from the left side with 14:16 to play before the halftime break.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Newsome and another trey by Butler resulted in a quick 9-0 Skyhawk run over a stretch of 1:28 to make the score 18-9 in UT Martin’s favor.

After Arkansas State scored four straight points to get within five points (18-13), the Skyhawks used another 9-0 run to build a 27-13 advantage after a pair of Newsome free throws with 8:12 to go in the first half.

The Red Wolves came back with five unanswered points but the Skyhawks used the deep ball to once again build a sizeable lead. Four different players drained a trifecta during an 18-4 run that gave UT Martin a 45-22 advantage with 1:08 to go before the halftime break. Arkansas State would close out the half with five straight points to provide the halftime margin of 45-27.

Butler poured in a game-high 16 points – aided by a perfect 4-for-4 performance from beyond the three-point arc – at the break, while Newsome compiled 13 points and a game-high seven rebounds in the first half. As a team, the Skyhawks sank 55.6 percent of their three-point attempts (10-for-18) in the first 20 minutes. Gamble’s 12 points led Arkansas State at halftime.

UT Martin opened the second half with another Butler three-pointer – as her open straightaway trey ignited a 7-0 Skyhawk spurt that provided a 52-27 lead. The Red Wolves would later come back with eight unanswered points to make the score 54-37.

The Skyhawks led by 20 points (61-41) at the 12:27 mark but Arkansas State used a 7-0 run to make the score 63-52 with just under eight minutes remaining.

A pair of Ashia Jones free throws with 5:08 to go extended the UT Martin lead out to 69-56 but the Red Wolves made a final push, slicing their deficit to five points (71-66) with 2:23 remaining.

However, the Skyhawk defense tightened up and did not concede another Arkansas State point the rest of the way. Caldwell converted a layup and Newsome calmly made a pair of clutch free throws with 39 seconds left to provide the final scoring margin.

The Skyhawks return home for their next two games, beginning with a showdown against Southeastern Conference opponent Missouri on Saturday, Nov. 23. Tipoff from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.