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Skyhawks good, bad before beginning ’13

Skyhawks good, bad before beginning ’13
By RANDY CAVIN
Special to The Messenger
UT Martin rang out the old year with an Ohio Valley Conference split against Jacksonville State on New Year’s Eve.
The women opened conference play with a strong performance from senior post player Richieska Bryant and sent the Gamecocks to their 14th loss of the season with a 93-63 win.
The men fell to 0-2 in the OVC after losing the nightcap 64-54.
UTM 93, JSU 63 (W)
Bryant had perhaps one of her best games as a Skyhawk with only the second double-double of her career  with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Bryant also blocked six shots to move her into second all-time for a Skyhawk with 97 blocks.
Bryant knows she is going to have to elevate her game now that Cortrice Golden is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery.
“I pretty much just went post-to-post hard and held my ground today,” Bryant said. “I did not let them push me out of the paint.”
Head coach Kevin McMillan was highly pleased with the way Bryant stepped up her game against the Gamecocks and believes she can be the type of post player who can put up double-doubles every game. She just has to want to become that type of player.
“We told her today, yesterday and the day before that we were going to go to her,” McMillan said. “She is uncomfortable with that, but I said I do not care. You do not have a choice. I think she is a double-double every night. The question is does she think she can do this for us every night.”
Bryant was a perfect 5-for-5 in field goal shooting for the first half and had five block shots.
The Skyhawks (6-9, 1-0) came out of the gate and took control of the game in the first half behind Bryant, Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome.
The Skyhawks also lit up the scoreboard with eight 3-pointers in the first half and 15 for the game. The 15 3-pointers are also a season-high for the Skyhawks.
Butler went 5-of-10 from 3-point range to extend her career games with at least one 3-pointer to 61 games. She is now eight games shy of tying the NCAA mark of 69 games.
Butler finished with a game-high 25 points with Newsome right behind her with 24 points. Freshman guard Katie Schubert scored 11 points and went 3-of-5 on 3-pointers.
JSU 64, UTM 54 (M)
Not enough energy and not enough desire to play is how Skyhawk head coach Jason James felt about his team’s performance on New Year’s Eve.
This was after a good practice the day before and a solid effort against Southeast Missouri on Saturday.
“We did not have a desire to play, for whatever reason,” James said. “We did not have a desire to execute. Just yesterday, we were a ton better on offense, even against SEMO.”
The Skyhawks (3-11, 0-2) only led the game three times — with 5:10 to play in the first half on a pair of free throws by Justin Childs to make it a 19-17 game, at 1:27 on a dunk and free throw by Miles Taylor to make 22-20 1:27 to play in the half and then with 34 seconds to play on another three-point play by Taylor to make it 25-22.
The Gamecocks (10-3, 2-0) opened the second half with a 9-0 run to make it 32-25 game with 15:58 to play, and then JSU made it a 15-point game on a layup by Brian Williams with 12:35 to go.
Taylor led the Skyhawks with 22 points and 12 rebounds, his seventh career double-double.
UTM will back at home Thursday vs. Murray State.
Published in The Messenger 1.1.13.

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