UT Martin men again just miss league win
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:00 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
UT Martin again was so close, only to come up just short.
The Skyhawks dropped their fifth Ohio Valley Conference game on Saturday, losing 69-65 to SIU-Edwardsville at the Elam Center.
UTM, 3-15 overall, has lost its last two league games by a total six points and has now dropped six games in a row. The Skyhawks hit the road for four of their next five games, beginning Thursday at Eastern Illinois.
The Skyhawks fell behind by as many as 11 points in the first half before closing to within four at the break and then trailed by as many as 17 in the second half, only to battle back to within five in the final minutes. The four-point final margin came on a basket in the lane at the buzzer.
“We have to get better on the defensive end,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “Scoring 65 points should be enough to win in this league. We have to get more consistent on the defensive end. Until we do that, every night will be a crap shoot.”
The Skyhawks fought a frustrating battle with ups and downs all night, coming back after falling far behind but never getting over the top.
UT Martin led just once in the game, going up 6-4 on a pair of Mike Liabo free throws at 15:49 of the first half.
Other than that, UTM played catch-up all night.
SIUE (5-8, 3-1 OVC) scored nine straight to go up 13-6 and never trailed again.
The Cougars did have to fight to keep their lead on occasion, however.
Edwardsville twice led by 11 in the first half, but the Skyhawks closed the half on a 9-2 run to get within 35-31.
Liabo had seven of those points, including a 3-pointer as he finished the first 20 minutes with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 at the free throw line.
“We learned how to attack the 1-3-1 (zone) a little by getting the ball inside for some easy baskets,” James said of his team’s surge to close the first half. “We told the players to skip the ball instead of passing it back and forth, and we were able to do that and distort their zone some.”
One of Liabo’s baskets in the late run was a layup, and Corderio Maclin also laid in a basket.
UTM then failed to bring its momentum out of the locker room for the second half as SIUE opened with a 15-2 run, Jerome Jones capping it with a 3-point play and 3-point basket.
“They weren’t ready to play,” James said of his team’s second half start. “I wish I could put one thing on it, but I don’t know what it was. We just weren’t mentally ready to play. Things tend to happen with young guys in their mental preparation, and we just have to get better.”
Still, UTM was not done, outscoring the Cougars 30-19 the rest of the way and getting as close as six points on three occasions in addition to the late five-point margin.
“When they went up 17, we’d quit guarding for a little while,” James said “But, we were able to tighten the reins, get some stops and get back in it. We just couldn’t create enough stops to win.”
SIUE pushed the lead back out to 14 once and then later to 10 points. Published in The WCP 1.10.12