The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team had to look no further than Ashia Jones as the standout sophomore tied the program’s single-game scoring record with a 44 point performance to down Murray State 95-85 on Saturday evening.
The Skyhawks (13-9, 9-0 OVC) pushed their unbeaten streak to nine games, just one win shy of tying the program’s best start in school history. Three players scored in double figures for the Skyhawks while the team shot 49.3 percent from the floor. Jones became the third player in program history to score 44 points, joining the dynamic duo of Heather Butler (twice) and Jasmine Newsome in the record books.
The night marked the first 40-point performance for Jones while notching the sixth game this season with 30 points or more. Jones was joined in double figures by Jessy Ward with 17 points while Tiara Caldwell notched her fifth consecutive game in double figures with 15 points.
Murray State (5-17, 0-9 OVC) saw four players score in double figures, led by the play of Julia Fox who tallied 20 points. Keiona Kirby was close behind with 19 points while LeAsia Wright (18 points) and Netanya Jackson (11 points and 10 rebounds) filled up the stat sheet for the Racers.
The Skyhawks would waste little time taking control of the game, jumping out to a 13-3 run before the first media timeout. The duo of Jones and Ward would combine to score 11 of the team’s 13 points during the run.
The Racers would finally snap the run at the 15:33 mark off a three-pointer from Fox. Back-to-back three-pointers by Wright and Fox within 40 seconds would trim the lead to 17-12 with just over 13 minutes to play in the first. Another jumper by Wright and a pair of free throws by Ajee Smith would get the game as close at one point, capping off a 10-0 run for the Racers.
Another trifecta by Ward would snap the Racers run following the second media timeout. The Skyhawks would proceed to outscore the Racers 12-4 over the following four minutes of play, seeing the trio of Jones, Ward and Chelsea Roberts all contribute offensively during the span.
A 6-0 run for the Skyhawks would be snapped by Ke’Shunan James’ eighth point in the previous 10 minutes. The margin would stick at six points but a personal foul in conjunction with a technical on James would balloon the lead to 10 points following two free throws by Haley Howard and a jumper by Karisma Tyson.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Ward and Katie Schubert along with a jumper by Jones would give the Skyhawks a 15-2 run and a 19 point lead in the final minutes of play. UT Martin would take a 47-31 lead into the break as Jones led all scorers with 18 points while Ward tossed in 14 points as well. Wright led Murray State with 10 points at the break while Fox and James tallied eight points each.
Murray State would outscore the Skyhawks in the opening four minutes of the second half, due in large part to back-to-back three-pointers by Fox from the left wing. Taking a 6-0 run by Fox into the first media, the Skyhawks were outscored 15-12 during the span including nine points from Jones to reach the 20 point plateau for the 11th time in the last 13 contests.
The Racers would outscore the Skyhawks 20-19 over the following few minutes as well, as three players moved into double figures for the home squad as Kirby, Fox and Wright all had 17 points at the under-eight media timeout. Jones would also tally her sixth 30 point outing of the season during the span as well.
The Skyhawks would outscore the Racers 12-10 over the ensuing media break, seeing Jones become just the fourth player in school history to reach the 40 point plateau and first since Butler accomplished the feat on March 1, 2014 against Austin Peay.
A free throw shot by Wright with 40 seconds to play would cap off the night’s scoring as UT Martin picked up the 95-85 victory. The win is the Skyhawks ninth consecutive victory.
UT Martin will return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Austin Peay. Action from the Dunn Center is scheduled to tipoff at 7 p.m.