MARTIN, Tenn. – For the seventh time this season and second straight game, the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball scored in the triple digits to pick up the Ohio Valley Conference victory over Tennessee State 104-65. With the win, the Skyhawks clinched at least a share of the OVC season championship and secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
The Skyhawks (19-7, 12-1 OVC) cruised to the victory by shooting over 53 percent from the floor while forcing a normally sure-handed Lady Tiger offense into 30 turnovers. Tonight marked the third time this season that the Skyhawks have forced 30 or more turnovers, all three times resulting in victories.
The league’s highest scoring offense was paced by the play of senior Heather Butler who tallied a game high 27 points on the night. Freshman Ashia Jones continued her dominating debut season with her second consecutive 20-plus point outing, tallying 25 points and seven rebounds. Jones been nothing short of consistent recently, scoring in double figures in 11 consecutive games. Butler and Jones were supported by the play of Katie Schubert, who tossed in 17 points and five rebounds, and Jasmine Newsome who tallied her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 assists while tying a career high with seven steals.
Tennessee State (10-16, 7-6 OVC) shot 46 percent from the floor while tallying 18 assists on their 25 field goals. The Lady Tigers were paced by Jayda Johnson who tallied 15 points and seven rebounds while Chelsea Hudson scored 14 points to round out the offensive unit.
“I thought that we came out to start the game playing very well, especially effort wise,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “The opening 10 minutes of the game was dominating but when we went to the bench our production wavered. We opened the second half with strong intensity and we were able to do a better job of sustaining that type of play down the stretch.”
The Skyhawks would open the game on a quick 7-0 run before Hudson would tally the Lady Tigers first basket on a three-point play. The Skyhawks would then put together another 11-0 run, forcing Tennessee State to take their first timeout at the 15:59 mark trailing 18-3. Schubert led the way with six points while Butler, Newsome and Jones each tossed in four points during the run.
UT Martin continued their work on the defensive end, forcing an additional three turnovers over the next three minutes. Outscoring the Lady Tigers 8-5 during the span, the Skyhawks got four points from Butler while TSU tallied their second and third field goals.
Both Butler and Jones would reach double figures during the ensuing four minute span as the Skyhawks held the 34-16 advantage at the 7:58 media timeout. Both teams would score eight points during the span, as the Lady Tigers would receive field goals from four players.
Tennessee State would put together a responding run, stringing together a 7-2 run over a two minute span. Ultimately, the Lady Tigers would outscore the Skyhawks going into the final media timeout of the first half 9-5, but still trailed 39-25.
Both teams would score 10 points each in the final three minutes of the first half. Butler would tally eight of the Skyhawks 10 points during the span, going into the halftime break as the scoring leader with 20 points. Jones was the only other Skyhawk in double figures in the first half with 14 points while Newsome tallied seven points and 10 assists. The Lady Tigers were paced by Johnson with eight points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Skyhawks opened the second half much like they started the first, outscoring the Lady Tigers 18-4 through the opening four minutes of play. Included in the span was a 20 second run which saw the Skyhawks score seven unanswered points. Jones joined Butler with her 22nd point while Schubert reached double figures.
Newsome would join Schubert, Butler and Jones in double figures with four points over the next several minutes. Outscoring the Lady Tigers 10-8, the Skyhawks would hold a 30 point lead at 77-47 with 11:55 to play in the game.
The Skyhawks would continue on the offensive, stretching their lead out to 34 at the 7:10 mark of the second. Butler led the way for the Skyhawks adding five points while Schubert, Newsome and Jones combined for the other six points during the run.
The final minutes saw the Skyhawk reserves take the floor, eclipsing the 100-point mark for the seventh time this season and second consecutive game. As the final buzzer sounded, the Skyhawks would come out with the 104-65 victory.
UT Martin will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 22 when they play OVC rival Murray State. With a victory over the Racers, the Skyhawks could clinch the OVC season title outright. Action from the Elam Center is scheduled for 2 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend, with the first 500 students who swipe their Skyhawk card receiving an official UT Martin basketball “White Out” shirt.