Balanced scoring attack leads to grounding of the Redhawks
Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 12:02 am
MARTIN, Tenn. – Andres Irarrazabal led seven University of Tennessee at Martin double-figure scorers tonight, as the senior forward notched his first career double-double with career-highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds to boost the Skyhawks to a 79-69 victory over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Irarrazabal, who ironically set his previous career-high in points against Southeast Missouri in the Elam Center on Feb. 9 of last season, was nearly perfect from the floor, making six of his seven attempts. He added three free throws, an assist and a block in 26 minutes.
All seven UT Martin players who attempted a shot scored, as Troy King, Terence Smith, Benzor Simmons and Mike Liabo each netted 11 points. Reuben Clayton and Dane Smith pitched in 10 points apiece in a remarkable sign of steadiness for the Skyhawks (6-14, 2-7 OVC), who have now won back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference games.
Marland Smith tallied a game-high 29 points to lead Southeast Missouri (5-14, 4-5 OVC), while Lucas Nutt (12 points) and Anthony Allison also reached double-figures. Leon Powell, who scored 36 points in UT Martin’s early season loss in Cape Girardeau, scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds while blocking seven shots.Aside from the balance on display from the upstart Skyhawks, UT Martin head coach Jason James thought his team’s discipline on the offensive end was a big factor tonight.
Irarrazabal helped the Skyhawks jump out to an early lead, as he scored the game’s first two field goals while UT Martin’s defense held the Redhawks to three missed shots and a turnover in the game’s first 2:30. Back-to-back layups by Dane Smith and another layup by Irarrazabal at the 13:16 mark gave the Skyhawks their first 10 points of the game off layups.
Marland Smith scored on consecutive trips down the floor to give Southeast Missouri a 13-12 advantage with 12:42 to play in the first half, but King sank a jumper in the paint on the Skyhawks’ next possession to wrestle the lead back in UT Martin’s favor. Marland Smith drained a three-pointer to put the Redhawks up by three near the midway point of the first half, but the Skyhawks used a 9-2 run capped off by a Liabo trey to go back ahead 26-22.
The Redhawks answered right back with a 10-2 run to go ahead by four points, but UT Martin ended the half by scoring 11 of the last 15 points, taking a 39-36 lead into the locker room after Clayton buried a pull-up 25-foot three-pointer as time expired in the first half.
A half-dozen Skyhawks accounted for all 39 of UT Martin’s points, as each player scored between five and eight points. Marland Smith had 17 points to lead Southeast Missouri.
UT Martin opened up the second half by scoring seven of the first 10 points, taking a seven-point lead off an Irarrazabal layup with 18:04 remaining. After a Nutt three-pointer got the Redhawks back within four, the senior trio of Irarrazabal, Clayton and Simmons scored UT Martin’s next 13 points to help the Skyhawks take a 56-44 lead at the 12:31 mark.
Southeast Missouri scored five unanswered points to get back within single-digits, but the Skyhawks pushed their lead back out to 11 on a fast-break layup by Terence Smith. However, that would be UT Martin’s last points over the next 2:28, allowing Southeast Missouri to creep back within four points with 7:41 to play in the contest.
Terence Smith and Dane Smith converted tough layups in a stretch of 32 seconds to give UT Martin some breathing room at 66-58, but the Redhawks wouldn’t let up. A Marland Smith jumper at the 4:31 mark sliced the Skyhawk lead to four, but Terence Smith rose above the crowd to tip-in his own miss while getting fouled for a huge three-point play.
Terence Smith – who scored all 11 of his points in the second half – sank a pair of free throws for UT Martin’s next two points and coupled with a Simmons layup, the Skyhawks were all of a sudden back on top by double-figures at 75-65 with 2:27 to go.Marland Smith’s last basket of the night got Southeast Missouri back within eight points, but the Skyhawks closed out the game strong.
Liabo made four-of-four free throws in the game’s last 1:27 to ice the victory for UT Martin.
The Skyhawks will look to make it three straight victories this Saturday, when they welcome the Eastern Illinois Panthers to the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.