Marshun Newell poured in a season-best 20 points – six of which came in the overtime period – to help the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team seize a 75-72 victory over Morehead State at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
The win was the first Ohio Valley Conference victory in the young career of first-year Skyhawk head coach Heath Schroyer and also gave UT Martin nine wins – one more than the program tallied all of last season. The victory also was UT Martin’s first over Morehead State since Feb. 28, 2009 – snapping a nine-game losing skid to the Eagles.
“It was a really big win for us,” Schroyer said. “We had every opportunity to lay down and fold and we didn’t. We made free throws and got key stops to find a way to gut out a win against a really good team. I can’t say enough about the resilience of our team.”
A trio of Skyhawk newcomers joined Newell with double-figures in the scoring column. Deville Smith had 18 points (five of which came in overtime), while Arkeem Joseph established new career-highs in points (18), rebounds (eight) and minutes played (36) tonight. Twymond Howard chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds for the Skyhawks, who made four of their six field goal attempts and both free throw shots in overtime.
Along with Newell’s heroics, sophomore reserve forward Chandler Rowe impacted the game defensively, taking a pair of charges in an overtime frame where neither team would lead by more than three points.
“I thought Chandler just came up huge,” Schroyer said. “He took some big charges and got on the floor for loose balls. He did everything we needed to do to win.”
Morehead State (6-12, 1-2 OVC) was led by Kareem Storey’s 22 points. Brent Arrington and Angelo Warner also added 15 points apiece for the Eagles, who were held to 16.7 percent shooting (1-for-6) in the overtime period.
Howard gave UT Martin an early lead, scoring the first seven points for the Skyhawks. After a Smith three-pointer from the left corner put UT Martin ahead by a 10-9 margin, Storey reeled off seven unanswered points in 1:05 to provide Morehead State with a 16-10 lead with just under 15 minutes to play in the first half.
Joseph then helped the Skyhawks trim their deficit, as he scored six of UT Martin’s nine points in a span of three minutes to even the score at 19-all at the 9:32 mark. The Eagles followed with a 12-0 run, with the last eight points coming from Angelo Warner.
The Skyhawks answered right back with 13 unanswered points, as three-pointers by Smith, Newell and Alex Anderson helped tilt the score in UT Martin’s favor at 32-31. Morehead State would briefly reclaim a lead but a fadeaway jumper by Smith with 18 seconds left in the first half provided the halftime score of 35-all.
Smith’s 10 first-half points paced the Skyhawks, who knocked down six of their seven 3-point attempts (85.7 percent) in the first half. Storey’s 12 points led Morehead State.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Howard only 12 seconds into the second half gave UT Martin a lead it would not relinquish until Corban Collins gave Morehead State a 46-44 lead with a three-pointer from the right corner at the 15:11 mark of the second half.
Joseph then tallied back-to-back turnaround jumpers in the lane to push the Skyhawks
ahead by a 48-46 margin with 13:37 remaining in the contest. UT Martin held the lead until another Collins three-pointer gave the Eagles a 51-50 advantage at the 11:40 mark.
UT Martin reclaimed the lead after Newell scored four straight points but Morehead State tallied a quick 7-0 run over a stretch of 1:05 to go ahead by a 60-56 margin.
The Skyhawks then strung together six unanswered points, as a nifty up-and-under layup by Smith started an old-fashioned three-point play. Smith’s ensuing free throw provided UT Martin with a 61-60 advantage with 2:28 remaining.
A Warner layup with 56 seconds to go tied the score at 62-all but Newell nailed a pair of clutch free throws with 34 seconds left to put the Skyhawks on top by two points. However, Storey converted a layup on the ensuing possession to send the game into overtime.
Newell accounted for the first points of overtime with a strong take to the hoop but Morehead State registered the next four points to take a 68-66 advantage. Smith then buried a big three-pointer from the right wing gave UT Martin a one-point lead (69-68) with 3:14 to go.
Newell padded the Skyhawk lead to 73-70 with another drive to the basket but Morehead State would soon get within one point with 49 seconds left on the clock. Smith came right back with a swooping layup to push UT Martin’s lead back out to 73-70. Arrington made a pair of free throws before Newell sank two more attempts from the charity stripe with six seconds remaining. Morehead State’s last-second three-point attempt fell short and the Skyhawks corralled the rebound to close out the victory.
UT Martin returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 15 when it travels to in-state OVC rival Tennessee Tech. Tipoff at the Eblen Center is set for 7:30 p.m.