By her standards Sunday afternoon’s game against Indiana State was not junior guard Heather Butler’s best effort.
However, her 24 points, five 3-pointers and seven assists Tuesday night was enough for UT Martin to claim an 87-80 overtime victory over visiting Southern Miss in the Elam Center.
“I had a lot to think about after Sunday,” Butler said. “I was not going to let my teammates and our fans down again.”
With 55 seconds left in overtime, Butler found herself at the free throw line again.
This time around, she made both free throws to give the Skyhawks an 86-80 lead.
“I came in early Monday and shot free throws, and I stayed late Monday and shot free throws and worked on my shot,” Butler said.
And Jasmine Newsome was right beside her the whole time.
Newsome hit a 3-pointer with 1:10 to play in overtime to give the Skyhawks an 84-77 advantage, and then with 32 seconds left, she hit the first of two free throws to make it 87-80.
Newsome, also a junior, finished the game with 23 points, four 3-pointers, six rebounds and five assists.
“The problem is we are not playing 40 minutes,” Newsome said. “We are waiting to the second half and then turning it up.”
For the second time in three days, UT Martin was forced to play a five-minute overtime period. Newsome tied the game at 71-71 with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left in regulation.
“When teams key on (Heather) Butler and (Jasmine) Newsome, others will be open and Katie (Schubert) was that person tonight,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said.
Senior Rickiesha Bryant also stepped it up for the Skyhawks.
“Tonight we got lucky and made those open shots,” McMillan said.
Schubert scored 11 points, three 3-pointers and grabbed six rebounds. Bryant netted 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had five blocks.
UT Martin trailed 42-33 at the half but outscored Southern Miss 38-29 in the second half.
Despite the Southern Miss quickness and Jamierra Faulkner’s 36 points and 10 rebounds, UT Martin managed to keep things close.
With 10:30 to play, UT Martin cut the Southern Miss lead to six points when Schubert knocked down a 3-pointer
The Skyhawks made it a six-point game, 59-53, when Bryant scored with 7:37 to go.
The Skyhawks rallied down the stretch and cut the Southern Miss lead to five points, 67-62, with 3:45 to play.
The Skyhawks made three consecutive 3-pointers and relied on a Butler steal to make their move.
Senior Tanecka Carey scored 25 points for Southern Miss. She made five 3-pointers in the game, including three in the first half to lead the Lady Eagles to a 15-3 run at the start of the game.
With the victory the Skyhawks are now 5-8 on the year, while Southern Miss is 5-5.
The Skyhawks will close out their non-conference slate Saturday at UAB. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
“Our season has been so hard,” McMillan said. “Our players have to decide how bad they want to win games, be a great team and great teammates on and off the floor. When we get to the point where we care about those things as much as breathing, we’ll be successful. We must step it up a notch.”
The Skyhawk men are in action tonight, hosting Samford.
Action tips off at 7 p.m.
UT Martin’s men are 3-8 on the season, while the Bulldogs is 2-10. Both teams will be looking to break a three-game losing streak.
Published in The Messenger 12.19.12