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Skyhawk women getting back on right track

Skyhawk women getting back on right track
EIU snuffs Skyhawk women’s comeback try
MARTIN, Tenn. — A late comeback from the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team fell short as Eastern Illinois was able to edge out a 63-57 win at Skyhawk Arena Saturday. Crystal Fuller led the Skyhawks’ scoring attack with 22 points, despite being plagued with foul trouble from the early moments.
With the loss, UT Martin falls to 5-20 on the year and 2-13 in Ohio Valley Conference play. The Panthers improve to 14-10 overall and 13-3 in the OVC to hold their spot at No. 2 in the OVC rankings.
The last time these time these two teams met, Phyllisha Mitchell’s scoring from the free-throw line was a major part of the story line that saw UT Martin upend the then OVC-leading Panthers. It was again Mitchell who gave the Skyhawks a lead on a game opening 3-pointer, but unfortunately it would be the only lead of the day for the Skyhawks. Eastern Illinois’ Dominique Sims answered the Mitchell trey with five consecutive points of her own.
Early in the first half, Fuller’s aggressive defensive effort earned her a pair of fouls that forced her to the bench for a majority of the half. While Fuller was on the bench, the Panthers were able to extend their lead to as much as 16 with 2:45 left in the half. UT Martin was able to rally and finish the half on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit at the break to only 35-27.
In the second half, the Skyhawks were able to continue cutting into the Panthers’ lead to bring it to only three with 12:55 left on a Fuller jumper in the lane. On the next trip down the floor Fuller picked up her fourth foul with 11:56 remaining, again forcing her to the bench. In the time Fuller was sitting, Eastern Illinois was able to extend its lead to 14 with 7:13 left in the game.
Fuller returned to the game with a little more than seven minutes remaining and helped spark a run to again cut the lead to only three with 1:19 remaining in the game. UT Martin couldn’t get over the hump though as no more shots fell for the remainder of the game and Eastern Illinois was able to hit three free throws to set the final margin at 63-57.
“Give Eastern Illinois credit, they did a great job tonight and were able to set the tone and get us into some foul trouble early,” said Skyhawk head coach Tara Tansil. “We had our chances down the stretch, but you could tell we were tired and missed our shots at the end.”
UT Martin will return to action Thursday night when it travels to Cookeville for a Valentines Day date with Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles took the earlier contest this year in Martin, 73-64, and are coming off a win over Tennessee State Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 5:30 at the Elben Center.

UTM women end skid with convincing win
over Tennessee St.
MARTIN, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team broke its seven-game skid in convincing fashion by handing Tennessee State a 73-57 loss at Skyhawk Arena Thursday night. Crystal Fuller netted 24 points to lead four Skyhawks who recorded double-digit scoring nights. Phyllisha Mitchell chipped in her eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and eight rebounds.
UT Martin improved its record to 5-19 on the year and 2-12 in Ohio Valley Conference action. The Lady Tigers fall to 10-13 overall and an even 7-7 in conference play.
In the first half, the Skyhawks trailed only once in the early moments of the game. Tennessee State opened its largest lead of the half at 7-3, when Charisse Hicks connected on a 3-pointer. The Skyhawks answered, though, and in a big way. The next time down the floor, Fuller connected on a jumper from just outside the paint that sparked a 26-4 run over the next seven minutes.
UT Martin tied the game on a Phyllisha Mitchell layup at the 15:33 mark and took the lead for good on another Fuller jumper with 14:33 left in the first half. The Skyhawk run was aided by six consecutive three-point plays from the Skyhawks. Angler started the three-point streak with back-to-back treys and Fuller took over the next two trips down the floor, recording a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays. Aunjel Adams and Marie Goyette, who both returned from their one-game suspensions, added three-pointers the next two Skyhawk possessions to push the lead to 27-11.
UT Martin extended its lead to 20 with 2:20 left in the half, before Tennessee State was able to cut that to 15 in the last minute. Any momentum that the Lady Tigers picked up on their 5-0 run was taken away when Goyette nailed a jumper at the buzzer to send the Skyhawks into the break with a 36-19 advantage.
The second half started with the Skyhawks still firing freely from behind the arc and Victoria Carlile nailing back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to its widest margin of the night at 24. The second of Carlile’s treys was a running three from 25 feet as the shot clock was expiring.
The Skyhawks held a lead that hovered around 20 points until the 10:45 mark in the second half when the Lady Tigers went on an 18-8 run to cut the lead to only nine points with 5:20 remaining. That would be as close as Tennessee State would get though, as it could score only two more field goals the remainder of the game. The Skyhawks finished the night on a 14-7 run to set the final tally at 73-57.
“Our guard play was much better tonight and that is something we haven’t had all year,” said Skyhawk head coach Tara Tansil. “Phyllisha [Mitchell] and Crystal [Fuller] were double and triple teamed at times tonight and our guards were really able to take advantage of that. We seemed to get a little tired in the second half and let them make a run, but even though we have low numbers we had to fight through that and I’m proud of the way we finished the game”
Along with Fuller’s 24 points and seven rebounds and Mitchell’s double-double, Goyette and Carlile both added 11 points apiece. As a team, the Skyhawks out-rebounded the Lady Tigers 33-31 and were able to take advantage of 23 turnovers in the game.
“Eastern Illinois is going to come in here gunning for us and we know it,” said Tansil. “We are going to come out aggressive Saturday try to play well for our fans here at the Elam Center, like we did tonight.”

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