Rested Skyhawk ladies ready for title run

Rested Skyhawk ladies ready for title run
NASHVILLE — Well-rested UT Martin should enter today’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament women’s semifinal with a full tank.
Morehead State, though, could be running on fumes.
The third-seeded Lady Eagles had to rally from a 21-point first-half deficit against Jacksonville State Thursday, but did so in convincing fashion by scoring 31 unanswered markers during one stretch on their way to an 82-67 victory in the first of two quarterfinal games.
Conference Player of the Year Chynna Bozeman scored 22 of her game-high 35 points in the second half, hitting 6-of-11 from 3-point range to lead Morehead on a 54-22 flurry over the final 20 minutes.
UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan, whose team beat MSU 88-69 in its final regular season game last weekend and will have had six days off before taking the floor for today’s 2 p.m. game, wasn’t sure how much of an advantage the Skyhawks would have after earning one of the two double-byes given to the conference’s top two seeds for regular season play.
“Probably, adrenaline will take over for them, if I was guessing,” said McMillan, whose club practiced in Martin Thursday afternoon before traveling to the tournament site afterward. “They don’t play a lot of kids, so you’d hope that would be an advantage for us with them having to expend some energy and come from behind on Thursday. It’s really hard to predict how that will affect them.
“Either way, it won’t change how we’ve prepared or how we’ve played all season.”
The Skyhawks may or may not have another advantage on the heels of their impressive victory over Morehead last Saturday that gave them the No. 2 seed in the postseason event.
McMillan, though, said the opposite could be true.
“You’d think that the team that lost would have the revenge thing going,” said the second-year UTM skipper who also piloted the program to the tournament semifinals in his inaugural season. “I really believe all that will go out the window after the first three minutes.”
Today’s UTM-MSU survivor will play the victor of the first semifinal — top seed Tennessee Tech or reigning two-time tourney champion Austin Peay — in Saturday’s 3 o’clock championship game with an automatic NCAA Tournament berth going to the winner.
UT Martin is led by the conference’s Freshman of the Year, Heather Butler, and the league’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Jasmine Newsome.
Butler and Newsome, who headline a talented freshman class and the youngest team in the country, finished second and third behind Bozeman (20.8) in the OVC in scoring at 19.0 and 17.6 ppg, respectively.
The Skyhawks are 8-11 all-time in Ohio Valley Conference Tournament games, their best finishes coming as No. 3 seeds when they lost back-to-back championship games in 1998 and ’99.

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