CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team tallied 64 second half points to spur a huge comeback to pick up the Ohio Valley Conference road victory at Austin Peay, 95-81.
The Skyhawks (10-6, 3-0 OVC) became just the fourth team in program history to start OVC play 3-0. For the second time this season, the Skyhawks forced 30 turnovers while recording 19 steals on the evening. Rebounding from a poor first half, the Skyhawks shot 56 percent from the field in the closing period while holding the Lady Govs offense to just one second half three point field goal after hitting eight in the first.
Offensively the Skyhawks turned to the senior duo of Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler to lead the team. Newsome scored a game-high 37 points while Butler chipped in 30 points as well. The duo scored 46 of the team’s 64 points in the second half. Ashia Jones joined the tandem in double figures with 11 points.
“Tonight was a tale of two halves for sure,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “When we get our kids to sell out, we know how dangerous a team we have. You saw the worst half of basketball that we could play, followed by best. For a team to be able to score 64 points in a single half, that is the sign of a team that has great potential.”
Austin Peay (3-12, 0-2 OVC) produced a valiant effort on the night, led by the play of Kristen Stainback who shattered her previous career high with 34 points. Forward Jennifer Nwokocha joined Stainback with 22 points while tallying a game-best 10 rebounds on the night.
The Lady Govs jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead before the Skyhawks would respond with a 7-2 advantage of their own to take an 8-7 lead into the break. The Skyhawks forced seven turnovers in the opening five minutes of play to take control of the lead.
Austin Peay would continue on the offensive end, responding with a 7-1 run to regain the 14-9 lead with 11:59 to play in the first.
Continuing to control the early part of the game, the Lady Govs outscored the Skyhawks 10-5 over the next three minutes of play. Making four field goals during the span, including a pair of three-pointers, the Lady Govs pushed its field goal percentage up to 67 percent.
The Skyhawks looked to get back on defense over the next span, forcing three turnovers, but could was outscored 11-9 going into the final media break of the first half. It was Stainback who provided the separation for the Lady Govs, scoring seven points during the span.
The Lady Govs would outscore the Skyhawks 9-6 over the final three minutes of the first half to a take a 45-31 advantage into the intermission. Stainback led all scorers with a career-high 19 points, including shooting 7-of-9 from the field, while making four threes. The Skyhawks were paced by Newsome with 16 points.
The Skyhawks came out aggressive in the second half, outscoring the Lady Govs 18-7 to bring the game within three. Jones tossed in seven points for the Skyhawks while Butler continued her streak of consecutive games in double figures with her 10th point during the span.
The next break saw the Skyhawks make their comeback official, retaking the lead at the 14:01 mark of the second, their first lead since the 16:06 mark of the first. The Skyhawks put together a 14-6 run behind the play of Newsome and Butler, combining to score 10 of the team’s 14 points, leading 63-58.
The Skyhawks continued on the offensive, outscoring the Lady Govs 11-6 over the corresponding four minutes of play. The senior duo of Newsome and Butler continued scoring at a rampant pace, each moving tallying over 20 points.
Both teams exchanged 10 points each at the final media break of the game, but the Skyhawks maintained the 84-72 advantage with 3:40 to play. Newsome scored seven of the team’s 10 points while Stainback chipped in another five points to move over the 30 point plateau.
The Skyhawks finished the game by outscoring the Lady Govs 11-9 to close out the game. Butler finished the final three minutes of game with eight points, including six free throws down the stretch to secure the 95-81 victory.
UT Martin will now return home for the first time since Nov. 25 when they Skyhawks host OVC East member Belmont on Saturday, Jan. 11. Tip-off from the Elam Center is schedule for 2 p.m.