|UTM women extend home winning streak by stopping Billikens |
|MARTIN, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team outlasted Saint Louis 71-68 to improve its record to 3-2 on the year. |
The win also extended the Skyhawks’ home winning streak to 11 consecutive victories. Saint Louis, which entered the game with back-to-back wins over Ohio Valley Conference opponents Tennessee State and Morehead State, falls to 3-3 on the season. Crystal Fuller led UT Martin in scoring with 19, while Phyllisha Mitchell recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Skyhawks opened the game with a three-point bucket from Mitchell, who normally finds her comfort zone in the paint. UT Martin pushed its lead to four in the early minutes before Saint Louis was able to knot the game at 13 apiece with 15:33 left in the first half. The Billikens took the lead on a Hayley Leake jumper, but their advantage would be only a short one.
Both squads exchanged the lead six times in the next five minutes before Nicole Holman exploded to the basket for a go-ahead layup, giving the Skyhawks a 25-24 lead. From that point on, UT Martin out-scored the Billikens 20-10 to close out the half, including a 6-0 run to end the half, and carry a 43-34 advantage into the break.
In the second frame, UT Martin pushed its lead to as much as 13 with 14:59 remaining in the game. The Skyhawks gained their largest lead of the game off a 3-pointer from Jennifer Angler. The bucket was the fourth of the game for Angler. Saint Louis continued to battle and chip away at the Skyhawks’ lead, cutting it to only four with 4:54 remaining on an Amanda Kemezys layup. Both squads missed jumpers, before Saint Louis head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller disagreed with an official’s call and received a technical foul.
UT Martin struggled from the line all night, shooting only 52 percent, but Nicole Holman, who led the OVC in free-throw percentage last season, drained both of the technical shots. Saint Louis then committed another foul on the ensuing inbound play to send Angler to the line for a pair. She connected on both free throws, as well, doubling the Skyhawks lead to eight points in only a 12-second trip down the floor. That proved to be enough as the Skyhawks were able to survive the Billikens’ feverish finish and run out the clock to pick up the victory.
“We played well in the first half, but had a lot of unforced turnovers in the second that hurt us,” said Skyhawk head coach Tara Tansil. “Crystal [Fuller] and Phyllisha [Mitchell] played well for us again and I am pleased with their performance, but we didn’t shoot free-throws well at all. We still have plenty that we can work on and improve.”
Joining Fuller and Mitchell with a double-figure scoring night was Holman, who posted 11 and Angler, who with 14 was one point short of tying a career high. For the first time this season, UT Martin lost the rebounding battle but still won the game. The Billikens pulled down 44 boards, compared to only 41 for the Skyhawks.
UT Martin will next turn its focus to a swing through the Lone Star state with match-ups against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Dec. 1 and Texas-Pan American Dec. 3. UT Martin defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 69-68 in Martin last season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.