Skyhawk women improve shooting but losing streak reaches 10 games

Skyhawk women improve shooting but losing streak reaches 10 games
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team held a lead for a large portion of the night, but Tennessee State was able to mount a comeback and hand the Skyhawks their 10th consecutive loss of the season. Crystal Fuller nearly matched her career high with 23 points and Phyllisha Mitchell chipped in 12, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Lady Tigers.
With the loss, UT Martin falls to 3-12 on the year and 0-5 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The 10 consecutive losses also matches the second longest losing streak in team history. The longest streak was 12 games, set during the Skyhawks’ inaugural year in the OVC, which was 1992-93. Tennessee State improves to 7-7 on the year and 4-1 in conference play.
In the first half, the Skyhawks had the hot hand and were able to jump out to an early lead. Fuller nailed the first shot of the game on a fadeaway jumper from the right side. Over the next two minutes she recorded another bucket in addition to leading on the defensive side, picking up a charge on TSU leading scorer Oby Okafor.
When Fuller came out of the game for a short break mid-way through the first half, the Skyhawks’ double-digit lead was quickly cut to only six. When Fuller reentered the game, she immediately hit a basket to push the lead back to eight with 8:20 remaining.
Mitchell found the basket on a layup at the 6:53 mark, but it would be the last bucket for almost four minutes, allowing Tennessee State to not only cut into the UT Martin lead, but also build an eight-point lead that they would carry into the halftime break.
The second half saw the Skyhawks return to what has become all to familiar in recent games, poor shooting from the field. UT Martin was able to connect on only 30 percent of its shots from the field and was never able to regain the lead. The Skyhawks cut the lead to only two points on two occasions, but were unable to get any closer than that.
“Tennessee State is really tough, we started the game well but late in the game we got tired and it showed with our play,” said Skyhawk head coach Tara Tansil. “We don’t have a lot of time to rest before going to Eastern Illinois Thursday, but we have to get better before then. Hopefully Tori [Carlile] will be back and Jenn [Angler] will be healthier. We need both of them right now to be successful.”
Carlile, who made her first appearance of the season against Samford, was held out of the TSU game after her surgically repaired shoulder was aggravated against Samford. Angler was still nursing a lingering ankle injury that kept her out of the Samford game and managed only nine minutes court time against Tennessee State.
UTM will next play on Thursday when it travels to Charleston, Ill., for a showdown with the OVC leading Panthers of Eastern Illinois. EIU is coming off a road win over Austin Peay. The Panthers are led this year by a pair of former OVC Freshmen of the Year, in Rachel Galligan and Jessica Huffman. Galligan is averaging 15 points per game, while Huffman is pouring in 10 a night. UTM split the series last season with Eastern Illinois with each team winning on its home court.

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