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Improved Skyhawks best MTSU

Improved Skyhawks best MTSU
MURFREESBORO — The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team entered Monday night’s game shooting 38 percent from the floor against Division-I opponents.
By taking better shots, the Skyhawks left the Murphy Center with a 52.1 shooting percentage and their biggest win to date of the 2008-09 season, a 72-65 decision against Sun Belt Conference member and in-state rival Middle Tennessee State.
“I was really proud of our effort and execution tonight,” UT Martin head coach Bret Campbell said. “We had a lot of hustle plays and we cut back on our three-pointers and showed better balance.”
With the win, the Skyhawks (3-5) ended a four-game slide and defeated a Middle Tennessee squad that only lost to Tennessee by 10 points and only lost to Vanderbilt by eight points earlier this season.
Senior guard Lester Hudson extended his own streak of scoring more than 20 points in every game so far this season with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Hudson remains as the only statistically ranked NCAA Division-I men’s basketball player to score at least 20 points in every game they had played.
The Skyhawks received eight points from Union City product Marquis Weddle and also got seven points apiece from Benzor Simmons, Delrico Lane and Djero Riedewald.
Olajide Hay, appearing in his first game of the season, added six points, six rebounds and two steals in 29 minutes, as UT Martin also got contributions from Reuben Clayton (five points), Eric Massey (two points) and MJ Brown (two points).
Lane also made a major impact on the game with a game-high six assists and four steals, also a game-high in that category.
Middle Tennessee was led by the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year in Desmond Yates, who scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Kevin Kanaskie added 16 points and four assists, and Demetrius Green scored 11 points to lead the Blue Raiders, who fall to 4-4.
After MTSU’s Theryn Hudson made a lay-up at the 18:32 mark to open up the game’s scoring, UT Martin went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:27, culminating in a straightaway three-pointer from Weddle that prompted MTSU head coach Kermit Davis to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Blue Raiders reeled off six consecutive points before the Skyhawks answered with a 14-0 run of their own to extend their lead to 21-8 with 11:25 left in the first half.
Hay converted on a lay-in to give the Skyhawks their biggest first-half lead with 8:57 left, as UT Martin went up 27-13. MTSU then came back with eight unanswered points as part of a 12-3 run to whittle UT Martin’s lead down to three at 28-25 with 4:57 left.
During MTSU’s run, the Skyhawks went cold from the floor, not making a field goal in exactly a five minute stretch.
Hudson ended that when he nailed an NBA-range three-point field goal to push the UT Martin lead back out to eight at 33-25 with 3:57 left in the half.
A Simmons inside bucket gave UT Martin a 40-27 lead with 28 seconds left in the half, but Montarrio Haddock’s jumper from the left elbow with one second remaining gave the Skyhawks an 11-point advantage at the break by a score of 40-29.
For the first half, the Skyhawks shot a scorching 60 percent from the field (15-for-25), a season-high against a Division-I opponent. UT Martin’s 40 points scored in the first half were also a season-high against a Division-I opponent, as Hudson led all scorers with 14 first half points.
“Out of our 25 shots in the first half, only one of those we had charted on the bench as a bad shot,” Campbell said. “That was as critical to our success as anything.”
The Blue Raiders came out of the locker room hot, as Kanaskie scored the first seven points of the second half to make the score 40-36 in UT Martin’s favor, causing Campbell to call a timeout at the 18:31 mark.
UTM answered out of the timeout as Lane came up with a steal that led to a thunderous fast-break dunk by Hay with 17:58 left in the game to make the score 42-36.
Coming out of the under-16 media timeout, Hudson scored on an underhand scoop shot in the lane to make the Skyhawk lead seven at the 15:11 mark. MTSU came racing back with a 9-1 run that was capped off with a Haddock three-pointer to put the Blue Raiders up by a 47-46 score at the 10:53 mark.
The Skyhawks didn’t panic, however, going on an 8-0 run over the next 3:10, a stretch that included a powerful one-handed slam by Hudson off a fast break that caused Davis to call his first time out of the second half with 8:57 left.
After a UT Martin defensive stand, Hay got a reverse lay-up to go from underneath the basket to extend the Skyhawk lead to 54-47 at the 8:01 mark.
Riedewald made one of two free throws with 6:36 left, but MTSU came back with five unanswered points that caused Campbell to call a timeout with 5:29 left with the score at 57-56 in UT Martin’s favor.
On four out of the next five trips down the floor, outstanding plays by Lane led to the Skyhawks gaining an advantage. Lane grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball in the basket out of the timeout, then caused a steal and fed Clayton on a fast break for an easy lay-up to make the score 61-56 with 4:56 left.
After a Yates pull up jumper, Clayton made one of two free throws. On the ensuing defensive stance, the 6-1, 190-pound Lane drew a hard charge from the 6-5, 235-pound Haddock that led to the last media timeout of the game.
On the first play out of the timeout, Lane found Hudson on a back-door cut for an easy lay-up to pad the UT Martin lead to 64-58 with 3:22 left. After a Haddock jumper, Hudson answered with a deep, high-arching trey over Yates to make the Skyhawk lead 67-60 with 2:21 left. It would be the last field goal the Skyhawks would make, but that’s all they would need to win the game as a pair of Hudson free throws with 16 seconds left sealed the Skyhawks biggest win so far in the 2008-09 season.
The Skyhawks will look to keep the momentum going on Thursday when they host Brescia at the Tom and Kathleen Elam Center at 7 p.m.

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