Four Skyhawks poured in double-figures in the scoring column to help the University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team pick up a 70-53 Ohio Valley Conference home victory over Southeast Missouri this evening.
UT Martin led for over 27 minutes of the game and did not trail after the 3:12 mark of the first half. The Skyhawks shot 53.8 percent from three-point range (7-for-13) and won the rebounding battle by a 37-26 margin.
Deville Smith tossed in 18 points to lead UT Martin, while Twymond Howard accumulated 17 points for the Skyhawks. Alex Anderson scored 13 points while Marshun Newell racked up 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds for UT Martin, who improves to 12-7 overall with a 4-2 OVC mark.
Southeast Missouri (9-11, 3-4 OVC) was led by 21 points out of Isiah Jones. Antonius Cleveland pitched in with 11 points for the Redhawks, who were playing without leading scorer Jarekious Bradley.
“I thought our second half defense was as good of a half defensively as we’ve had all year,” UT Martin head coach Heath Schroyer said. “To hold a team as good as Southeast Missouri to 21 points is hard to do and our guys really responded.”
Southeast Missouri got on the scoreboard first but the Skyhawks scored seven of the next nine points, four of which came from Javier Martinez. A three-pointer from the right wing by Smith gave UT Martin a 10-9 advantage but the Redhawks would soon claim a 20-15 lead with 10:35 remaining in the first half.
The Skyhawks came right back with a 10-2 run, capped off with a pair of Howard free throws that made the score 25-22 in UT Martin’s favor at the 5:16 mark.
Southeast Missouri would close in within two points with two minutes remaining in the half before Anderson caught fire, drilling three-pointers on three consecutive possessions to close out the half and give the Skyhawks a 40-32 advantage at the break.
Anderson scored 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting performance – including a 3-for-3 effort from three-point range – in the first 20 minutes. Jones had 13 points for Southeast Missouri, who shot 50 percent in the first half while UT Martin connected on 53.8 percent of its field goal attempts.
Newell scored the first bucket of the second half off an offensive rebound, giving the Skyhawks a double-digit lead at 42-32. UT Martin’s lead remained at 10 points with 14:48 left to play until Southeast Missouri compiled nine unanswered points to make the score 47-46 with 11:31 remaining.
The Skyhawks then were able to expand upon their lead, sinking four free throws and coming up with three buckets in the paint to go ahead by a 57-48 margin with seven minutes left to play.
After the Redhawks closed within seven points, UT Martin essentially iced the game with a 13-1 run over a stretch of 3:53, as the Skyhawks stretched their lead out to as many as 19 points in the waning moments of the contest.
The Skyhawks host OVC West rival Eastern Illinois next Thursday, Jan. 29. Tipoff time from the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center is set for 6:30 p.m.