CONWAY, Ark. — UT Martin nearly overcame a 14-point second half deficit, but its comeback attempt fell just short in an 87-86 loss to Central Arkansas on Wedneday night at the Farris Center.
In a game that saw the lead change hands 13 times in the first half alone, the Skyhawks shot the lights out in the second half — shooting at a 65.5 percent clip (19-for-29). After a run by the Bears resulted in a 14-point lead with 12:34 left to play, UT Martin whittled its deficit all the way down to one point with 5:27 to play. However, the Skyhawks couldn’t tie or overtake the lead from that point forward.
UT Martin (3-6) received stellar post play, led by Myles Taylor’s 19 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Tobias Dowdell compiled career-highs in points (13) and rebounds (13) in only 23 minutes for his first career double-double, while Mike Liabo pitched in 15 points in 21 minutes off the bench.
B.J. McLaughlin (career-highs of nine points, eight rebounds), Bobby Jones (nine) and Dee Oldham (eight) also nearly cracked double-figures in the scoring column for the Skyhawks, who out-rebounded Central Arkansas by a 42-30 margin.
“Our post players played hard and competed tonight,” UT Martin head coach Jason James said. “They did just about everything we asked them to do. I’m proud of our team. We fought hard but just came up a little short.”
Ryan Williams’ 20 points led Central Arkansas (3-3), while LaQuentin Miles (16 points), Jordan Harks (15), Robert Crawford (14) and DeShone McClure (12) also reached double-figures for the Bears, who held a 33-12 advantage in free throw attempts for the game.
Justin Childs accounted for four of the Skyhawks’ first six points, helping UT Martin jumped out to a lead right out of the gate. Central Arkansas soon would open up a five-point lead before a Skyhawk 7-0 run, capped off by a Jones 3-pointer, gave UT Martin a 13-11 lead with just under 15 minutes to play.
The Bears reclaimed the lead before Dowdell inspired a quick spurt of six unanswered points to make the score 19-14 in UT Martin’s favor with 11:38 left before halftime. The sophomore out of Birmingham was responsible for six of the Skyhawks’ eight points during a stretch of 3:55.
After a 7-0 Central Arkansas run resulted in a six-point advantage for the Bears, McLaughlin went off, scoring all nine of his points over a span of 4:29 to give UT Martin a 36-34 lead. However, the Bears closed out the half with four straight points to take a 38-36 advantage into the locker room.
McLaughlin’s nine first-half points were a game-high, while Dowdell (six points, seven rebounds) also paced the Skyhawks.
Central Arkansas began the second half on a 10-2 run, going on top by 10 points.
before a Jones trifecta at the 17:10 mark gave UT Martin some momentum back.
The Bears eventually would lead by 14 on two occasions, but the Skyhawks wouldn’t give up as Dowdell scored five straight points to ignite a 7-0 run that made the score 67-60 in Central Arkansas’ favor with 11:10 remaining.
With its deficit still at seven, UTM unreeled six unanswered points, finished off by a pair of Liabo free throws that made the score 74-73 with 5:27 left to play.
The Bears eventually extended their lead out to eight at the 1:54 mark, but a pair of 3-pointers by Oldham made the score close until the final buzzer.
UTM visits Lipscomb on Saturday.
Published in The Messenger 12.6.12