|Girl talk at UTM is about heroics |
|Posted: Monday, January 24, 2011 5:07 pm |
|Everybody was talking about Jasmine Newsome’s game-winning shot with 2.4 seconds left that lifted UT Martin to a thrilling 80-78 come-from-behind victory over preseason Ohio Valley Conference favorite Eastern Illinois Saturday. |
Everybody, that is, but her coach.
“Probably the play that gets lost or overlooked is the one Jasmine made on the defensive end that gave us the opportunity to win the game,” Skyhawk skipper Kevin McMillan said after Newsome’s heroics capped a 15-point UTM comeback. “If she doesn’t get the block and held-ball, we don’t have that chance for her to make the last shot.”
Newsome, who stuffed EIU’s Ta’Kenya Nixon on a shot attempt from in close, took the ensuing inbounds pass and went end-to-end and sank a floating six-foot shot to cap a wild finish that saw UT Martin outscore the Lady Panthers 26-9 over the final 10:03 after EIU had taken a 69-54 lead.
Her flare for the dramatic also punctuated a career-high 35-point performance by the Millington freshman, who teamed with backcourt mate Heather Butler (20 points) for a Skyhawk squad that maintained a share of second place in the OVC with a league mark of 7-2 and an overall 12-8 record.
Of note, too, is that the comeback triumph extended UTM’s home winning streak to 12 games and came vs. a Lady Panther program that eliminated the Skyhawks from last year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
Add to that the likelihood EIU will be a top rival of UT Martin over the next several years with eight of the two teams’ starters either freshmen or sophomores and the win had multiple meanings.
“I’m not sure — because we have so many freshmen — that many of our girls know that they put us out of the tournament last year,” McMillan added. “I do believe, though, that we’ll be seeing a lot of them in the next couple of years as I expect us both to have good basketball teams in this conference.”
“It was a good win for us, because it came against a team that was picked to win the conference, and I know they came in wounded a little bit, having been beaten in their last two games. I thought they outplayed us for 36 minutes, but we outplayed them the last four and somehow got out of it with a win.”
While Newsome and Butler — the only two freshmen in the Top 50 in the nation in scoring average-wise for the season were obviously the offensive catalysts for the Skyhawks, little-used Aubrey Reedy came off the bench and provided UTM with a quality five-minute stretch to end the game that drew praise from her coach.
“When you’re down by double figures, you turn to people who you know will give you their heart and soul and grit. Aubrey did that,” McMillan said of Reedy, who began her prep career at Obion Central before transferring to Gibson County. “She was at the front of the press, hustled down and guarded the post and didn’t give up any offensive rebounds.
“She might not be able to do it for a whole ballgame, but I know she has heart and will give us her all.”
Alecia Weatherly converted back-to-back buckets inside — the second with 16.7 seconds to play — to help the Skyhawks draw even in a furious finish that saw EIU gradually wilt under UT Martin’s dogged fullcourt pressure.
On Newsome’s defensive effort that set up her deciding field goal, she stopped Lady Panther standout Nixon, who’d consistently beaten her defender off penetration on the way to a 21-point, eight-rebound, six-assist performance.
The Lady Panthers led by as many as 11 points twice in the opening 20 minutes, the second with 1:28 remaining before intermission when Nixon scored the last of her 11 first-half points.
The Skyhawks closed to within 41-35 at the halftime horn after Newsome’s only first-half 3-pointer and a deuce by Butler. Newsome (16) and Butler (11) combined for all but eight of UTM’s points in the opening half, but were also responsible for seven of the team’s 13 turnovers.
UT Martin turned the ball over only four times in the second half, while EIU was guilty of 11.
Weatherly joined Newsome and Butler in double figures with 12 points, 10 of those coming in the second half.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.