The University of Tennessee at Martin men’s basketball team placed four players in double-digits in the scoring column but SIU Edwardsville ended the game on an 11-3 run to claim a 76-68 win at the Vadalabene Center this evening.
In a game that featured 12 lead changes and five ties, the score was even at 65-all with just under three minutes to play. The Cougars then concluded the contest with the aforementioned run.
The Skyhawks (17-10, 9-5 Ohio Valley Conference) were led by Alex Anderson, who sank a career-high five 3-pointers on his way to 17 points tonight. Marshun Newell narrowly missed a double-double (12 points, nine rebounds) while Deville Smith and Arkeem Joseph each scored 10 points to carry UT Martin.
SIU Edwardsville (12-14, 8-7 OVC) was led by CJ Carr’s 21 points in 24 minutes off the bench. Kris Davis added 19 points while Rozell Nunn (12 points) and Michael Messer (10) also reached double-figures in scoring for the Cougars.
“My hats off to SIU Edwardsville,” UT Martin head coach Heath Schroyer said. “They are as well-coached as anybody in this league. They’re really hard to prepare for because they play a lot of guys and they do a great job of spacing. We fought but they beat us on the glass and they out-toughed us.”
Anderson gave UT Martin its first lead of the game after he sank a three-pointer from the left wing at the 18:11 mark. SIU Edwardsville then scored six straight points before Newell drained a trifecta from the left corner to cut the Skyhawk deficit to two points at 8-6.
The Cougars followed with a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to take an 18-6 advantage with 11:36 left in the first half.
Anderson then got hot and willed UT Martin back in the game. He knocked down three-pointers on three out of four Skyhawk possessions at one point, cutting UT Martin’s deficit to six points with eight minutes to go before halftime.
SIU Edwardsville was able to push its advantage back out to 31-19 before the Skyhawks used a 17-4 run to surge back ahead after a Joseph layup made the score 36-35 at the 1:48 mark. Carr then ended the first half scoring with a driving layup to provide the 37-36 halftime margin.
Anderson’s 14 points led UT Martin in the first half while Newell also added 10 points at the break. The Skyhawks shot 53.8 percent from three-point land in the first half, knocking down seven of their 13 attempts. Carr had 14 points to pace SIU Edwardsville, who shot 60 percent (15-for-25) in the first 20 minutes.
UT Martin accounted for the first four points of the second half, as Twymond Howard converted a tough leaner and Chandler Rowe made a layup within nine seconds of each other to provide the Skyhawks with a 40-37 lead.
The lead changed hands five times in the first five-plus minutes of the second half. After the score was tied at 48-all with 14 minutes to go, Joseph scored on three straight trips down the floor to help UT Martin take a 54-49 lead.
Another Anderson trey midway through the second half put the Skyhawks ahead by six points but the Cougars came back with a 10-2 run to take a brief 61-59 lead with 6:26 left to play.
Joseph sank another hook shot just 33 seconds later to even the score at 61-all, beginning a stretch where three lead changes and three ties occurred in the span of 3:20. After a pull-up jumper in the lane by Newell, SIU Edwardsville scored the next six points to go ahead by a 69-65 margin with 1:44 remaining.
UT Martin kept fighting but would not get any closer than three points the rest of the way, as Nunn scored the final seven points for the Cougars, including a 5-for-6 effort from the charity stripe in the final 49 seconds.
The Skyhawks close out their road slate on Thursday, Feb. 26 when they head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee State Tigers. Tipoff from the Gentry Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.