UTM losses have same look

UTM losses have same look
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
If you’ve seen one UT Martin loss this season, you’ve essentially seen them all.
Again done it by a critical poor stretch that has defined their disappointing season, the Skyhawks lost for the 15th straight time, 74-71 to Eastern Illinois Saturday night at the Elam Center.
UTM (3-24, 0-14 in Ohio Valley Conference) had battled back from dismal first-half shooting to take a 47-44 lead with just under 16 minutes to play after consecutive 3-pointers by Mike Liabo.
But the Skyhawks then missed their next 12 shots — six of those layups — during a 61⁄2-minute stretch and made but 3-of-20 from the field during a 14-minute span in which EIU (11-14, 4-9) outscored them 24-12.
“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” a frustrated UT Martin head coach Jason James said following the game. “When Mike hit those back-to-back 3s, it was because we executed. Then we had that stretch that started when we missed a couple of shots, and then we missed several layups and had some critical turnovers.
“It seems like in every game, we can pick out a stretch or two and say, ‘If that had been different, the outcome would’ve been different.’”
UTM trailed by as many as nine with 69 seconds left, but battled to the very end and got to within 71-69 with 21 ticks to go following a long 3-pointer by Troy King and a layup by Omari Minor.
But the Panthers then made 3-of-4 free throws to seal the Skyhawks’ familiar fate.
Myles Taylor posted a double-double with 24 points and 11 boards to pace UTM, while Liabo added 14 and Dane Smith 11.
UTM shot just 32 percent (20-of-62) for the contest, compared to 49 percent (22-of-45) for EIU.
The Skyhawks were actually lucky to be within striking distance (40-33) at the half after shooting just 28 percent (8-of-28) and trailing by as many as 11 points in that first 20 minutes.
A near-flawless 16-of-17 performance at the charity stripe — including a perfect 11-for-11 effort by Taylor — helped keep UTM close.
UT Martin plays twice on the road this week, at Kenessaw State on Tuesday and at Southeastern Louisiana in an ESPNU Bracket-Buster game Saturday.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.13.12

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