All five University of Tennessee at Martin starters reached double-figures in the scoring column this afternoon as the Skyhawk men’s basketball team raced past Crowley’s Ridge College by a 84-61 margin at the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Deville Smith led UT Martin in scoring for the seventh time this season, pouring in 17 points to go along with seven assists, a career-best six steals and five rebounds. Alex Anderson tied a career-high with 16 points while Twymond Howard racked up 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Marshun Newell (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists) and Javier Martinez (season-high 12 points) rounded out the top scorers for the Skyhawks, who shot 57.6 percent in the second half to finish with an 8-5 record in nonconference play.
Crowley’s Ridge, an Association of Christian College Athletics member located in Paragould, Ark., was guided by Quinn Cooper’s 26 points and eight rebounds. Roy Marshall (15 points) and Skylor Guess (13 points, 10 rebounds) also led the Pioneers, who were forced into 21 turnovers by the Skyhawk defense.
“I thought at about the 12-minute mark of the second half, we found an offensive rhythm,” UT Martin head coach Heath Schroyer said. “The last two games in particular, we have had wide-open looks that we’ve knocked down all year but those shots haven’t really fallen for us. Defensively, we found a way to stay in the game until the shots started falling.”
Smith scored seven straight points to help the Skyhawks jump out to a 13-5 lead through the game’s six-plus minutes. Another layup by Smith at the 11:41 mark kept UT Martin’s lead at eight points (17-9).
Crowley’s Ridge then went on a 10-0 run over a span of 3:15, taking a 19-17 lead with 7:24 remaining in the first half. The Skyhawks would later respond with 10 unanswered points of their own, capped off with a tip-in by Chandler Rowe at the 1:40 mark.
The Pioneers got within four points with under a minute to play in the first half before a Smith floater in the lane at the buzzer provided UT Martin with a 31-25 halftime advantage.
Smith’s 13 points led all scorers at the break while Cooper tallied 10 points for Crowley’s Ridge. ;
Buckets by Martinez and Howard opened the scoring in the second half, resulting in a double-digit Skyhawk lead (35-25) with 19:13 left to play. The Pioneers then went on a 13-3 run to tie the score at 40-all with 14 minutes remaining in the contest.
UT Martin quickly answered with 11 unanswered points – six of which came from Newell – to claim a 51-40 lead with just under 11 minutes to go. Crowley’s Ridge crept within seven points at the 8:40 mark but that would ultimately be as close as the Pioneers would get the rest of the way.
Another 11-0 run by the Skyhawks pushed UT Martin’s advantage out to 69-50 with 5:34 left to play in the contest. An old-fashioned three-point play by Anderson at the 2:18 mark gave ;the Skyhawks a 21-point advantage at 76-55 before five straight points by CJ Davis closed out the game and provided UT Martin with its biggest lead of the day – the final 84-61 margin.
The Skyhawks now open Ohio Valley Conference play with a pair of home games next week. UT Martin hosts defending OVC tournament champion Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a matchup against Morehead State on Saturday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.