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Lady Skyhawks release 2014-15 nonconference schedule

Lady Skyhawks release 2014-15 nonconference schedule

Posted on 09 September 2014 by Allen

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Scheduling elite competition and building a tough non-conference schedule has never been something the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team and head coach Kevin McMillan has skirted away from.

The recipe for success has proven to be difficult, but the proof is in the results as the McMillan led Skyhawks have won two Ohio Valley Conference championships and four consecutive OVC Tournament crowns in the past four seasons.

“It’s arguably as good and deep as we have ever had,” said McMillan. “It is basically the same as it is every year. We want to play this type of caliber of teams in the non-conference so that we have prepared ourselves the best we can for the conference push.”

The Skyhawks will open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 14 when they travel to Southern Illinois. The game will mark the fourth time in the past five years that the Skyhawks and Salukis have squared off. From there the Skyhawks will travel to perennial national contender Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 16.

UT Martin will debut at the friendly confines of the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center for its home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 19 when the Skyhawks play host to American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati.

The weekend before Thanksgiving the Skyhawks will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, the site of their 2013 NCAA Tournament game, to participate in the Hawkeye Challenge beginning on Saturday, Nov. 22-23. The two-game tournament will feature the host Iowa Hawkeyes and the Dayton Flyers, two perennial top-25 programs.

Following the trip to Iowa, UT Martin will make a quick trip to Birmingham, Ala. to take on former OVC-foe Samford on Wednesday, Nov. 26. After the Thanksgiving holiday, the Skyhawks will return home to play host to Evansville on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Seeking to pick up where they left off last season, UT Martin will travel to Alabama once again on Thursday, Dec. 4 after knocking off the Southeastern Conference opponent 75-57 on the road. From there they will travel to Illinois State on Sunday, Dec. 7 to complete a previously schedule game from last season which was cancelled.
UT Martin will host its’ final non-conference home game on Saturday, Dec. 13 when the Skyhawks welcome in-state foe Chattanooga to the Elam Center.

The team’s focus will once again shift to the road as they embark on a four-game road swing beginning at Miami (Ohio) on Monday, Dec. 13. The next stop on the road swing will take the Skyhawks to Columbia, Mo. to take on SEC foe Missouri for the third consecutive season. Following a six-day layoff for Christmas break, the Skyhawks will wrap up the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule at Arizona on Monday, Dec. 29.

“Hopefully we will be tested, and there is no better way to be tested than on the road,” said McMillan. “There is a good group of teams coming into the Elam Center, but we will have a tough road with our non-conference schedule.”
McMillan and the Skyhawks will look to a mixture of key returners and newcomers to take over for the loss of program pillars in Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome. The Skyhawks return six players who saw action from last year’s squad, including three starters in OVC Freshman of the Year Ashia Jones, Katie Schubert and Shai Warfield-Cross to mesh with six newcomers.

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UT Martin Women represented  when Fever play Stars this weekend

UT Martin Women represented when Fever play Stars this weekend

Posted on 02 July 2014 by Allen

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Two of the biggest contributors to the success of the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball program will be on opposing benches for the first time this weekend in Indianapolis, Ind.

Lin Dunn, a 1969 UT Martin graduate and head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, will look to draw up a game plan to defeat the San Antonio Stars, who boast UT Martin’s and the Ohio Valley Conference’s all-time leading scorer in Heather Butler. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 5.

A large contingency of UT Martin fans are expected to make the approximate six-hour drive to Indianapolis, including Skyhawk athletics director Julio Freire and head women’s basketball coach Kevin McMillan.

Dunn, who announced her intent to retire after the 2014 WNBA season, never officially played collegiate basketball at UT Martin but is largely regarded as one of the biggest contributors to the Skyhawks’ recent success. A Dresden native, Dunn attended UT Martin from 1965-69 while women’s basketball was not offered as an official varsity sport. Dunn was at the forefront of the movement to add the sport to UT Martin’s repertoire and she got her wish in the fall of 1969, three years before Title IX and before most other schools in the country offered women’s athletics in general.

However, by the time women’s basketball was an officially recognized sport at UT Martin, Dunn had already graduated with a bachelor of sciences degree in health, physical education and English.

Dunn parlayed her passion and knowledge for the game into a 38-year coaching career in both the collegiate and professional ranks. She racked up a 447-257 record in head coaching stints at four Division-I institutions (Austin Peay, Ole Miss, Miami and Purdue) and entered this season with a 197-178 professional record, including 152 WNBA victories (seventh-most in league history).

Dunn is no stranger to the big stage, as she guided the Fever to their first-ever WNBA championship in 2012. She also led Purdue to the 1994 Final Four and was an assistant coach on the 1992 USA Olympic Team that earned a bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain.

Donning the familiar No. 11 jersey, Butler is currently in her rookie season with the Stars. While minutes have been hard to come by, the Medina native has made the most of her opportunities while receiving praise from the San Antonio veterans for her work ethic and positive attitude.

Butler helped UT Martin reach unprecedented heights during her playing career from 2010-14. She poured in 2,865 career points – 339 more than the previous OVC record holder – to rank 16th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list. She signed a free agent contract with San Antonio on May 15, becoming the first-ever OVC player to earn a spot on a WNBA roster.

A four-time All-OVC first team selection, Butler helped the Skyhawks to 87 victories and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. She scored in double-figures in all 129 games of her career, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history. She tied an NCAA record with 392 three-pointers during her illustrious career.

Butler was named OVC Player of the Year and OVC Female Athlete of the Year in 2014, while also earning Senior CLASS Award first team All-American accolades. She was also one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, a co-recipient of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Female Amateur Athlete of the Year award, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, an OVC Scholar-Athlete and a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works team.

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Butler selected as OVC Nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year

Butler selected as OVC Nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year

Posted on 07 June 2014 by Allen

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Former University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball standout Heather Butler has been selected as one of two Ohio Valley Conference nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Joining Butler is Tennessee Tech’s Meghan O’Donoghue. The award will be announced at the Woman of the Year Awards dinner in Indianapolis on October 19.

Each conference nominates up to two women and from that group the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) narrows it down to the top 10 per division which will be announced in August. From those 30 candidates, the selection committee will determine the top three in each division.

The NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. Student-athletes are nominated only once in their career by their institution.

The NCAA CWA manages the nomination process and selections. In the past five years, 676 student-athletes were nominated by their conference or independent institutions, representing multiple ethnicities and all NCAA-sponsored sports within Divisions I, II and III. In 2013 alone, 455 student-athletes were nominated by their institutions. From 1998 through 2005, an average of 410 female student-athletes per year were nominated for the award; and since the program’s inception in 1991, 2629 women have been recognized as state or conference honorees.

Butler posted a 3.87 GPA as a health and human performance major. She was named to the UT Martin Chancellor’s Honor Roll and the OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll each of her four years. Last year, Butler was one of three female student-athletes to earn the OVC Scholar Athlete Award. She has volunteered with the reading program at local elementary schools as well as being an elementary and middle school DARE program graduation speaker. She has helped with women’s basketball summer camps and the SAAC Can Caravan as well as being a youth basketball coach.
Butler was a four-year team captain for the Skyhawks and led the team to four straight OVC Tournament titles and NCAA appearances. She was an All-OVC first team selection all four years of her career along with being named the OVC Freshman of the Year in 2010-10 and the Player of the Year last season. She became the league’s all-time leading scorer with 2,865 career points which also ranks 16th in the NCAA. Butler reached double figures in all 129 games of her career, ranking as the second longest streak in the nation. The mark also ranks fifth all-time in the NCAA. The Medina, Tenn., native was also recently named the OVC Female Athlete of the Year. She is currently a member of the San Antonio Stars WNBA team.

O’Donoghue was a member of the Tennessee Tech Cross Country team 2010-13 while also running track for the Golden Eagles. She earned the team’s Most Dedicated Runner Award and the team’s Most Improved Award.

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Former Skyhawk Butler signs with Stars

Former Skyhawk Butler signs with Stars

Posted on 24 May 2014 by Allen

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After dominating the competition and setting school, conference and national records, University of Tennessee at Martin senior guard Heather Butler has earned a spot on the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars. Butler becomes the first player in UT Martin and Ohio Valley Conference history to play in the WNBA.

Butler, a native of Medina, Tenn., earned a spot on the Stars training camp team prior to the season before being named to the squad’s 12-player roster. Butler joins the Stars first round pick and Notre Dame standout Kayla McBride as the only rookies to make the veteran led squad, beating out two draft picks and several undrafted free agents.

“This feeling is absolutely amazing,” said Butler. “It is such a dream come true. Nobody understands how hard the road to get to this level is until you do it yourself. This journey has been difficult but I am so excited for where I am right now. Since I was little, this has always been the goal and it is surreal that it is in my hands now. I am excited to get the season underway.”

Knowing that even with the expanded rosters by the WNBA for the 2014 season, making the 12-player squad was going to be an uphill battle heading into training camp. Butler made the most of her opportunities in camp, averaging five points in 11 minutes per game. She scored a preseason-high seven points and two rebounds in a 76-75 loss to the Tulsa Shock.

With her numbers ranking sixth on the squad, Butler went into the final days of preseason with the hopes of making the squad. Her dreams became reality during film session this afternoon. “When we walked into watch film this afternoon, coach scanned the room and told us that we were the 12 players that he was going to start the season with,” said Butler. “As soon as his words sunk in, I was in complete shock.”

In her time as a Skyhawk, Butler broke the OVC’s all-time scoring record this season as she finished her career with 2,865 career points, which ranks 16th in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Along with being named the OVC Female Athlete of the Year just yesterday, Butler was named the Tennessee Sports Writers’ Association Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and OVC Player of the Year. Butler earned first-team All-OVC honors for the fourth-straight season in leading the Skyhawks to a school-record 24 victories, the OVC regular season title, its fourth-straight OVC Tournament Championship and its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

During the season she averaged 23.6 points per game which ranked ninth nationally. She scored in double figures in all 129 games of her career, marking the second-longest streak in NCAA history. She also made 392 career 3-pointers, tying the NCAA all-time record. She scored 44 points in two games this season to tie the UTM single-game record; during the season she also set Skyhawk records for 3-point field goals made in a game (9), career field goals made (958), career field goals attempted (2,417), career 3-pointers made (392) and career 3-pointers attempted (1,074).

Butler was one of five finalists nationally for the Nancy Lieberman Award and was named OVC Player of the Week a league-best five times during the season. She was also a Senior CLASS Award first-team All-American selection, Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Female Amateur Athlete of the Year, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, an OVC Scholar-Athlete and a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works Team.

Butler and the Stars will open the 2014 season on Friday, May 16 when they travel to play the Atlanta Dream. The Stars will have their home opener on Saturday, May 17 against the Tulsa Shock.

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Heather Butler named OVC Female Athlete of the Year

Heather Butler named OVC Female Athlete of the Year

Posted on 14 May 2014 by Allen

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UT Martin senior guard Heather Butler has been selected as the Ohio Valley Conference Female Athlete of the Year for 2013-14 in voting by the league’s athletics directors and sports information directors.

Butler will receive her award at the League’s annual Honors Brunch on May 30 in Nashville. The Male Athlete of the Year (Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo) was announced on Monday.

Butler, who is currently playing with the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, broke the OVC’s all-time scoring record this season in finishing her career with 2,865 career points, which ranks 16th in NCAA women’s basketball history.

Named the OVC Player of the Year, Butler earned first-team All-OVC honors for the fourth-straight season in leading the Skyhawks to a school-record 24 victories, the OVC regular season title, its fourth-straight OVC Tournament Championship and its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

During the season she averaged 23.6 points per game which ranked ninth nationally. She scored in double figures in all 129 games of her career, marking the second-longest streak in NCAA history. She also made 392 career 3-pointers, tying the NCAA all-time record. She scored 44 points in a game this season to tie the UTM single-game record; during the season she also set Skyhawk records for 3-point field goals made in a game (9), career field goals made (958), career field goals attempted (2,417), career 3-pointers made (392) and career 3-pointers attempted (1,074).

Butler was one of five finalists nationally for the Nancy Lieberman Award and was named OVC Player of the Week a league-best five times during the season. She was also a Senior CLASS Award first-team All-American selection, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, an OVC Scholar-Athlete and a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works Team.

Other nominees for the award included Austin Peay senior forward Tatiana Ariza, Belmont senior middle blocker Allison McCoy, Eastern Illinois volleyball/softball player Reynae Hutchinson, Eastern Kentucky junior pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger, Jacksonville State senior pitcher Tiffany Harbin, Morehead State senior defensive specialist Leslie Schellhaas, Murray State senior golfer Delaney Howson, Southeast Missouri senior goalkeeper Ashton Aubuchon, SIUE senior track and field athlete Jatavia Wright, Tennessee State sophomore track athlete Clairwin Dameus and Tennessee Tech senior guard Diamond Henderson.

The OVC first awarded a Female Athlete of the Year in 1981.

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Butler signs with San Antonio Stars

Butler signs with San Antonio Stars

Posted on 21 April 2014 by Allen

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The University of Tennessee at Martin senior guard Heather Butler will continue her dreams of playing professional basketball with the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars after signing a training-day contract as announced by head coach and general manager Dan Hughes today. Butler becomes the first Skyhawk and second Ohio Valley Conference player to be invited to a WNBA training camp.

“This is an absolute dream come true,” said Butler. “Ever since I was little I have dreamed of playing at the next level and to be able to compete against some of the best players in the world. When Coach Hughes called to see if I was interested, I was completely surprised that an opportunity like this happened so quickly. Being able to have this opportunity is a complete shock and honor. Having your dreams right in the palm of your hands is a true blessing. I am just ready to go play and prove myself.”

Butler will go down as one of the greats to ever wear a Skyhawk jersey. The 5-4 guard closed her career as the top scorer in UT Martin and Ohio Valley Conference history with 2,865 points which ranked 16th on the NCAA’s all-time leaderboard. Named the 2014 OVC Player of the Year, Butler ranked ninth in the country in scoring with 23.6 points per game along with setting her third NCAA three-point record with 392 career three-pointers made.

Included in her high scoring output was a truly historical level of consistency. Butler scored in double figures in 129 consecutive games – every game of her career – ranking as the second longest streak in NCAA history. Her 129 game double figures streak ranks fifth on the all-time NCAA list.

A native of Medina, Tenn., Butler was tabbed a Senior CLASS Award All-American first team selection. Along with her numerous accomplishments on the court – including four All-OVC first team honors, two outright OVC season championships, four OVC Tournament championships and four consecutive NCAA Tournament berths – Butler was named a Final Five finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award. She was also a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works team, CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America second team and OVC Scholar-Athlete.

San Antonio added three players in the WNBA Draft welcoming Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride, Astou Ndour and Bri Kulas from Missouri. The Stars training camp begins on Sunday, April 27. The team will open the preseason, on May 2 against the Tulsa Shock, with the regular season opener set for Friday, May 16 at the defending Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream.

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McMillan signs new deal to remain Skyhawks Women’s Basketball Coach

McMillan signs new deal to remain Skyhawks Women’s Basketball Coach

Posted on 01 April 2014 by Allen

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After elevating the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball program to unprecedented heights, head coach Kevin McMillan has signed a new six-year contract that will take him through the 2019-20 season.

“The University of Tennessee at Martin is committed to Coach McMillan, his staff, their families and the women’s basketball program,” Skyhawk athletics director Julio Freire said. “This contract extension demonstrates our belief that Coach McMillan is the right leader for our program. We are proud of the academic, athletic and social development within his program. I could not think of a better person and staff to lead UT Martin women’s basketball.”

“We’re pleased that Kevin McMillan will remain at UT Martin,” said Dr. Tom Rakes, UT Martin chancellor. “Coach McMillan has guided the Skyhawk women’s basketball program into Ohio Valley Conference and national prominence. Coach McMillan and his family are important to the university and our community. We look forward to many more years of basketball success under his leadership.”

McMillan, 46, recently wrapped up his fifth season at the helm of the Skyhawk women’s basketball program. Under McMillan, UT Martin has made four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament – the first such appearances in program history. Earlier this month, the Skyhawks fell 60-58 at No. 4 seed North Carolina, which was the closest an OVC team had come to a win in the NCAA Tournament since 2003.

In addition to the four OVC Tournament titles in the last four years, UT Martin has also won the outright OVC regular season championships twice under McMillan (2011-12, 2013-14) after he inherited a Skyhawk program that posted a 2-27 overall record the year before his arrival.

McMillan sports a 98-62 record (.613 winning percentage) during his UT Martin tenure, including an impressive 63-21 mark (.750) against OVC opponents. He has served as head coach for three of UT Martin’s six all-time 20-win seasons, including a school-record 24 victories in 2013-14.

McMillan has also been recognized as the 2010 OVC Coach of the Year and the 2010-11 Tennessee Sports Writers Association Women’s Co-Head Coach of the Year.

“We would like to thank Chancellor Rakes and our AD Julio Freire for the commitment they have shown to the women’s basketball program at UT Martin,” McMillan said. “My family and I love West Tennessee and UT Martin – what it means to us and what it stands for. We appreciate the commitment from the university and the support from the community for what we have been able to accomplish the last five years. We look forward to adding to the legacy that has been set by the previous UT Martin student-athletes that have come through the program.”

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Lady Skyhawks get Tarheels in NCAA Tournament

Lady Skyhawks get Tarheels in NCAA Tournament

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Allen

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It was announced tonight that The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Chapel Hill, NC on Sunday, March 23. The game will tip off at 2:05 p.m. CT at Carmichael Arena and can be seen live on ESPN.

The Skyhawks (24-7) enter the game as winners of 17 of their last 18 games, clinching a spot in their fourth straight NCAA Tournament with a 78-66 win over Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference championship on March 8.

UT Martin is the only team in NCAA history to have two players rank first and second in their respective conference’s scoring history in senior guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome. Both players are four-time All-OVC first teamers while Butler was named the league’s Player of the Year and Newsome was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year. As a team, UT Martin ranks amongst the country’s best in scoring average (84.6 points per game, third), turnover margin (8.03, fourth) and three-point field goals per game (9.1, sixth).

Ranked No. 12 in Associated Press Top 25 and No. 13 in USA Today Coaches Poll, North Carolina (24-9) will enter the tournament as winner of three of its last four, with its only blemish coming against No. 10 Duke (66-61) in the ACC Tournament semifinals. The Tar Heels rank fourth in the nation in steals (11.6 steals per game), 15th in scoring margin (+14.7) and scoring offense (80.7 points per game).

ESPNW National Freshman of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year Diamond DeShields paces a balanced North Carolina scoring attack. DeShields averages 18.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game to lead the Tar Heels. Allisha Gray (14.3 points per game), Xylina McDaniel (11.8) and Stephanie Mavunga (11.0) also average double-digits in the scoring column for North Carolina.

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UT Martin Women win 2014 OVC Tournament

UT Martin Women win 2014 OVC Tournament

Posted on 08 March 2014 by Allen

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The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team became the first team to win four consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championships since 2001-04 with a 78-66 victory over No. 2 seed Belmont Bruins on Saturday afternoon at Municipal Auditorium. The victory notches the team’s six OVC title (four tournament, two regular season) in the past four years while clinching a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Skyhawks (24-7) never trailed after the 18:58 mark of the first half, while only trailing for 25 second in the whole game, en route to the program’s decisive tournament title. In contrast to the Skyhawks’ semifinal contest, the top-seeded Skyhawks had to provide a gutsy performance. Both teams valued each possession, committing just nine turnovers a piece.

Four players scored in double figures for the Skyhawks who were led by the play of senior Jasmine Newsome, the tournament’s most valuable player. Newsome battled a twisted ankle along with a tumble over a media table before finishing with a game-high 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Skyhawks. The MVP award is Newsome’s third of her career and second straight while scoring 20 or more points in nine consecutive OVC Tournament games.

Freshman Ashia Jones tossed in 16 points while Heather Butler and Katie Schubert tallied 12 points each. With Butler’s 12 point performance, she earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, while extending her career double figures streak to 128 straight games and moving into a tie for fourth on the NCAA’s career made 3-point field goals list with 389. She now trails the all-time NCAA three-point record by three, set by Kansas State’s Laurie Koehn in 2002-05 with 392.

In addition to the victory, the Skyhawks set a new program record for single season scoring with 2,623 total points this season. The mark eclipsed the previous record set in the 2011-12 season of 2,563, which ranked first in the country. Along with scoring records, the victory gave UT Martin 24 wins on the season, ranking as a new program record.

“I thought that going into the game that we wanted the game to be kind of our style – our pace,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “I thought that they would have trouble playing it but we couldn’t make them play the way that we wanted them to play. That’s a tribute to them. For this class to win four championships, I don’t think we ever dreamed of that when I recruited them and told them when they were high school seniors, ‘Hey, we’re going to win some games.’ But, we’re very thrilled.”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Butler. “We are truly blessed and fortunate to have a team each year to be able to win the OVC Championship. But it is just a little different this year now because we’re so hungry and we are not satisfied. We want to get to the NCAA Tournament but win a game and continue to prove ourselves to everybody.”
The victory not only wraps up the OVC Tournament, but the trio of Skyhawk seniors of Butler, Newsome and Megan White’s career in the OVC. The trio won four OVC Tournament titles while defeating their opponents by average of 10.25 points per game in the four tournament championship games.

“There’s a very sad part of this for these guys and us because they’ll never play an OVC game again. But I think all of us are pretty happy to be where we are,” said McMillan.

“It’s meant the world to me,” said White. “These are my best friends and they are the ones that got me the rings. I would never be here if it wasn’t for coach McMillan. It’s been amazing and I’ll take a lot of memories from winning four championships and playing at all the places that we’ve gotten to go and now we get to go to one more place for the NCAA Tournament. So hopefully this year we can win a game and go to that next round.”

Belmont (14-17) placed four players in double figures while placing both Jordyn Luffman and Katie Carroll on the OVC All-Tournament team. Luffman led the way for the Bruins with 16 points while Frankie Joubran tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds. The duo of Taylor Mills and Adrienne Tarrence tallied 10 points each.

“Extremely proud of our team,” said Belmont coach Cameron Newbauer. “We just played one of the best mid-major teams to a 12-point game. I think we played really hard and I couldn’t be more proud of our ladies.”

Newbauer had some words to both Newsome and Butler following the game’s completion. “I told them they can beat somebody,” said Newbauer. “I told them they can win a game. I’ve been at Louisville and Georgia for a long time, and I know what the highest level is and I know you guys can beat somebody. People outside the OVC don’t understand how good they are and how tough they are to play against. I really think, depending on the seed, they can give the right team and the right matchup fits and get a win.”

The Skyhawks jumped out to a quick 11-3 run before Belmont called its first timeout of the game with 17:37 to play in the first. The Skyhawks knocked down a trio of three pointers from Butler, Newsome and Schubert to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The Bruins would come out of the timeout by outscoring the Skyhawks 4-2, but UT Martin would retain the lead at 13-7 at the 15:15 mark.

Both teams would slow down offensively over the following four minutes of play as each team tallied five points each. Schubert would knock down her second three-pointer of the day before Newsome would convert on a three-point play coming out of the media timeout to give the Skyhawks the 19-12 lead.

Belmont cut into the Skyhawk lead over the next four minutes, outscoring the Skyhawks 7-5. Luffman led the way for the Bruins, tallying five points during the spurt. Going into the media timeout, UT Martin clung to a slim 23-19 lead with 7:34 to play in the first half.

Once again, Belmont continued to chip away at the Skyhawk margin, outscoring the top seed 8-7 over a span of five minutes. Taylor Mills sparked the Bruin offense by knocking down a pair of three-pointers while Newsome kept the Skyhawks in the lead by tallying seven straight points.

UT Martin would ride a 9-2 run into the halftime break, stretching their lead out to 37-29 following a three-pointer by Karisma Tyson at the buzzer. Newsome led all scorers with 15 points while Luffman tallied 10 points in the first half.

Butler knocked down a three-pointer right out of the shoots to give the Skyhawks their biggest lead of the game at the 19:50 mark of the second. The Skyhawks would come out on a 13-7 run in the opening minutes of the second half as they took the 50-38 lead into the break. Butler would tally five points during the run while Jones and Newsome each tallied four points.

The game kept its back-and-forth pace over the next several minutes with each team failing to tally a knockout blow. The Skyhawks retained their 61-51 lead with 6:37 to play. Belmont saw Joubran score seven of its points, keeping the Bruins within striking distance.

Going into the final media timeout, the Skyhawks clung to a 65-56 lead with 4:08 to play in the game. Mills joined double figures for the Bruins while Tiara Caldwell and Elizabeth Masengil tallied two points each.

With a championship in their sights, the Skyhawks put together an 8-2 run over the course of a minute to stretch their lead out to 74-63 with 1:18 to play. A trifecta by Butler filled the arena with excitement as she moved into a tie for fourth on the NCAA’s all-time career three-point field goals made list with her 389th. The three-pointer also moved Butler into double figures for the 128th consecutive game for her career.

As the clock hit zero and the Skyhawks came out victorious, the clinched their fourth consecutive OVC Tournament championship and fourth NCAA Tournament berth with the 78-66 victory over the Bruins. The Skyhawks will have to wait over a week to discover where and who they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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UT Martin’s Butler and Newsome Earn Top OVC Women’s Basketball Honors

UT Martin’s Butler and Newsome Earn Top OVC Women’s Basketball Honors

Posted on 04 March 2014 by Allen

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UT Martin’s Heather Butler was named the 2013-14 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year while teammate Jasmine Newsome was selected as the OVC Defensive Player of the Year. The Skyhawks’ Ashia Jones was tabbed as the Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year honors went to Jacksonville State’s Rick Peitri.

Butler, a native of Medina, Tenn., earns OVC Player of the Year honors after being selected as the 2010-11 Freshman of the Year. She becomes the sixth player in league history to win both awards in a career. The first team All-OVC selection has rewritten the league record books this year. She became the OVC’s all-time leading scorer earlier this year as she broke Tennessee Tech’s Cheryl Taylor’s mark that had stood for 27 years. The senior guard currently has 2,811 career points to rank 20th on the NCAA all-time list. Butler became just the 21st player in NCAA history to eclipse the 2,800 point mark for her career. She also recently set a new OVC all-time three-pointers made mark with 381 career triples so far this year. She has reached double-digits in every game of her career for a streak of 126 straight contests. In the regular-season finale against Austin Peay, Butler tied a school single-game record with 44 points and nine three-pointers made. Butler is leading the OVC with 24.1 points per game this year which also ranks 9th in the nations. She is the third different Skyhawk to earn Player of the Year honors joining Jasmine Newsome (2011-12, 2012-13) and Zabrina Harris (1998-99).

A native of Millington, Tenn., Newsome earns her second straight and third overall Defensive Player of the Year award. She becomes the first player in league history to win the honor in back-to-back years and the first to earn the award three times. The senior guard leads the league and ranks 18th in the nation with 2.8 steals per game this year. A first team All-OVC selection, Newsome also ranks fourth in the OVC with 19.1 points per game. Earlier this season, she tied the school’s single-game record with 44 points versus Quinnipiac. She became just the second player in school history to reach 2,000 points in her career. Newsome currently has 2,512 career points to rank third all-time in league history and needs just 15 points to move into second place. She also has dished out 167 assists for 5.8 per game to rank second in the league this year. Newsome closed out the regular-season setting a new UT Martin single-game mark with 14 assists five double d

Jones, a freshman forward from Covington, Tenn., leads the league with a 59.3 field goal percentage. She is recording 12.9 points per game this year and has reached double-figures 17 times, including last 14 games. Jones has scored 20 or more points six times, including hitting a career-high 27 twice this year. She also ranks 11th in the OVC with 6.3 rebounds per outing. So far this year, she has recorded five double-doubles. Jones is just the second Skyhawk to earn Freshman of the Year honors joining Heather Butler in 2010-11. In addition to being named the Freshman of the Year, Jones picked up All-OVC second team and All-Newcomer honors.

Peitri was tabbed the OVC Coach of the Year after leading his team to its first OVC Tournament berth since 2011. In his first year at the helm of the Gamecocks, Peitri led a team that won one game last year to an 8-8 OVC mark and a 12-17 overall mark this season. The eight conference wins are the most for a JSU team since the 2007-08 season. The last time Jacksonville State finished .500 or better in league action was in 2004-05 when it went 9-7. Jacksonville State enters the tournament having won three out of its last five, including a 71-69 overtime victory over Belmont in the regular-season finale.

ALL-OVC

Joining Butler and Newsome as first-team selections are Tennessee Tech junior guard Diamond Henderson. Eastern Kentucky senior guard Marie Carpenter earns first team honors after being selected to the All-Newcomer team as a freshman in 2011-12 while Belmont’s Jordyn Luffman is a first time All-OVC selection.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Carpenter ranks second in the league with 21.5 points per outing and a 84.7 free throw percentage. She also ranks among league leaders in three-point field goal percentage (40.8%) and three-pointers made (2.8 per game). Her 1,572 career points rank just behind Butler and Newsome among active leaders.

Henderson, a Kennesaw, Ga. native is third in the OVC with 19.7 points per game this year. She is also among the league’s top 15 in field goal percentage (45.7), assists (3.1 apg), free throw percentage (77.1%) and steals (1.3 spg). Henderson has recorded double-figures in points in all but two games this season, including hitting a career-high 37 versus Jacksonville State.

A product of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Luffman is 11th in the OVC with 14.4 points per game while ranking seventh in rebounds, bringing down 7.0 boards each time out. She is also among the league’s top five in free throw percentage (84.4%) and three-point field goal percentage (40.7%).

Joining Ashia Jones on the 2013-14 All-OVC second team as first time honorees are Eastern Illinois junior forward Sabina Oroszova (Bratilslava, Slovakia); Jacksonville State junior guard Candace Morton (Lexington, Ky.); Tennessee State junior forward Chelsea Hudson (Midland, Texas); and Morehead State junior guard Almesha Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Oroszova ranks in the league’s top 5 in points (17.0 ppg) and rebounds (10.5) while Morton has put up 16.7 points per game for sixth in the OVC. Hudson is 8th in the conference with 16.0 points per game and is fourth in rebounds, bringing down 8.4 boards per contest. Almesha Jones has dished out a league-leading 174 assists for 6.0 per game this year.

Making up the All-Newcomer team with Ashia Jones are SIUE freshman forward Micah Jones (Cowden, Ill.); Belmont junior guard Taylor Mills (Corryton, Tenn.); Austin Peay freshman center Tearra Banks (Louisville, Ky.); and Murray State freshman guard Taylor Porter (Louisia, KY.)

Micah Jones ranks among league leaders with 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while Mills is second on the team with 8.8 points per outing. Banks is second in the league with a 52.7 field goal percentage and Porter is among the OVC leaders with 10.9 points each time out.

2013-14 All-Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Teams
(voted on by the league’s head basketball coaches and sports information directors)

FIRST TEAM

Heather Butler, UT Martin *

Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin*

Marie Carpenter, Eastern Kentucky

Diamond Henderson, Tennessee Tech*

Jordyn Luffman, Belmont

SECOND TEAM

Sabina Oroszova, Eastern Illinois

Candace Morton, Jacksonville State

Chelsea Hudson, Tennessee State

Almesha Jones, Morehead Stat

Ashia Jones, UT Martin

ALL-NEWCOMER

Ashia Jones, UT Martin

Micah Jones, SIUE

Taylor Mills, Belmont

Tearra Banks, Austin Peay

Taylor Porter, Murray State

OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Heather Butler, UT Martin

OVC FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Ashia Jones, UT Martin

OVC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin

OVC COACH OF THE YEAR: Rick Peitri, Jacksonville State

* – 2012-13 First Team All-OVC

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Heather Butler and Ashia Jones win weekly OVC honors

Heather Butler and Ashia Jones win weekly OVC honors

Posted on 03 March 2014 by Allen

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The Ohio Valley Conference announced today that the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball duo of Heather Butler and Ashia Jones have garnered the season’s final Adidas OVC Player and Freshman of the Week honors, respectively.

The duo helped lead the team to a 22-7 regular season worksheet while posting a 15-1 record in OVC play. The two have been instrumental in leading the Skyhawks to the program’s second outright conference championships while earning the No. 1 seed in this week’s OVC Tournament.

Butler took home Co-Player of the Week honors after scoring 29 points against Eastern Illinois before tying a school single-game record with 44 points and nine made three-pointers versus Austin Peay. She also tallied five rebounds, four steals and three assists against APSU. Remaining highly efficient from the field, Butler shot 53 percent from the floor and 58 percent from beyond the arc for the week.

Butler currently sits 20th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with 2,811 career points, becoming just the 21st player in NCAA history to eclipse the 2,800 point mark for her career. She also broke the OVC’s career three-point field goals record with 381, passing Chynna Bozeman of Morehead State’s previous mark of 377.

Jones recorded her third double-double in four games with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Eastern Illinois. She followed that up with 16 points and six rebounds to help the Skyhawks defeat Austin Peay. Jones has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games along, along with tallying 20 points or more in five straight contests.

This marks the 12th time this season that a Skyhawk has taken home at least one OVC weekly honor. The honor is Butler’s 11th career Player of the Week accolade and fifth this season. Jones has taken home six Freshman of the Week honors this season, finishing the season with three consecutive weeks of honors.

The Skyhawks will be back in action this Friday, March 7 when they open OVC Tournament with a semifinal matchup at noon.

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Skyhawks beat Lady Govs on Senior Night 116-85

Skyhawks beat Lady Govs on Senior Night 116-85

Posted on 02 March 2014 by Allen

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Four seniors on the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team were recognized before today’s regular season finale against Austin Peay. The Skyhawks would put on a collective show as they closed out the regular season slate with a record setting performance to pick up the 116-85 Ohio Valley Conference victory over the visiting Lady Govs.

The Skyhawks (22-7, 15-1 OVC) recognized seniors Heather Butler, Jasmine Newsome, Megan White and manager Tabitha Causey as the winningest class to come through UT Martin. On top of winning the program’s first two outright OVC regular season championships, a trio of OVC Tournament championships and the programs first three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, the foursome led the program to 85 wins and a 55-11 worksheet in conference play.

“Our effort from this game was a grind and I am very proud of our senior class,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “Our senior class of Tabitha Causey, Megan White, Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler has been outstanding when it comes to accolades and achievements. This group of seniors has probably resulted in more exposure and positive publicity for this university than any group I have ever been around. I’ve been incredibly proud to coach this group and someday we’ll look back and really realize how spoiled that we have been.”

Sending the seniors out in deserving fashion, the Skyhawks broke four UT Martin records, on top of several personal bests. UT Martin scored a single-game record 116 points, breaking the previous mark of 114 points against Tennessee State on Jan. 2, 2012. The senior duo of Butler and Newsome continued to rewrite the record books as Butler tied her previous single-game record with 44 points, matching her output against Eastern Kentucky and Newsome’s performance earlier this season against Quinnipiac.

A large part of Butler’s successful afternoon was her shooting ability from beyond the arc, tying Newsome’s previous record with nine made three-pointers in a single game. Newsome who tallied 25 points on the afternoon, dished out a program record 15 assists, breaking the long standing record of 13 held by Gwen Long since Nov. 21, 1986.

Along with the senior duo’s impressive game accomplishments, the duo continue to climb their respective NCAA and OVC leaderboards. With Butler’s 44 point performance, she not only continued her double figures streak to 126 consecutive games which ranks seventh in NCAA history, but became the OVC’s all-time leader in made three-point field goals with 381 while jumping from 23rd to 20th on the NCAA all-time scoring list with 2,811 career points. Newsome tallied 25 points to move into third on the OVC’s all-time scoring list, passing Austin Peay’s Brooke Armistead with 2,512 points. Newsome now needs just 15 points to move into second, making both Butler and Newsome the no. 1 and 2 scorers in league history.

“All of our season accomplishments mean nothing to this point,” said McMillan. “Reality is that we are a single bid league and all that matters now is the tournament. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the regular season or in your career, everything comes down to next week. I just hope our kids are ready.”

Austin Peay (9-20, 6-10 OVC) shot 50 percent from the floor but were eliminated from OVC Tournament contention with the loss. The Lady Govs placed four players in double figures, led by the play of Kristen Stainback who tallied 21 points and seven assists. Stainback was joined in double figures by Tiasha Gray (19), Beth Rates (16 points and nine rebounds) and Jennifer Nwokocha (13).

Austin Peay jumped out to an early 8-4 lead before the Skyhawks would respond with a 4-1 run of their own. Newsome scored six of the team’s opening eight points but would trail the Lady Govs 9-8 at the first media timeout.
With the Skyhawks trailing by six with 13:55 to play, the home team scored six unanswered points over the next 30 seconds, causing the Lady Govs to call a timeout. Ultimately the Lady Govs would outscore the Skyhawks 14-13 over a period of four minutes, leading 23-21 with 11:44 to play in the first. Butler would knock down a pair of three-pointers while Jones tallied five points during the span.

The Skyhawks began to claw back into the game by forcing three turnovers are the ensuing three minutes of play while Newsome and Butler both tallied three-pointers to cut the Lady Govs lead to one.
UT Martin would tie the game at the five minute mark after Butler hit Warfield-Cross on a backdoor cut which resulted in a three-point play, knotting the game at 39-all. A jumper by Butler just outside of the paint at 4:31 mark gave the Skyhawks just their second lead of the game. During the Skyhawks 12-6 run, both Newsome and Butler would reach double figures.

The Skyhawks ended the first half on a 13-4 run, taking a 57-43 lead into the locker room. Newsome led all scorers with 19 points and seven assists in the first half while Butler tallied 15 points. Austin Peay was led by Rates who tallied 12 points and four rebounds.

Austin Peay came out attacking in the opening minutes of the second half, outscoring the Skyhawks 13-10 in the opening four minutes of play. Butler came out firing to start the second half, tallying eight of the team’s 10 points, including a pair of trifectas. Stainback joined double figure scorers for the Lady Govs with nine points of her own to start the second.

The Skyhawks went on a 17-6 run over the next four minutes as Butler continued her career night with nine points during the span. Newsome would not be outdone, notching a program single-game record with her 14th assist on the night.

The record breaking night would continue in the game’s next four minutes as Butler tied the school’s single game three-point record with nine made trifectas along with the single-game scoring record as she tallied her 44th point at the 4:06 mark.

UT Martin would ultimately outscore the Lady Govs 59-42 in the second half as the Skyhawks coasted to the 116-85 victory. The win saw the Skyhawks break the single game scoring record with 115 points, scoring over 100 points for the eighth time this season, while moving the team to 15-1 in conference play, tying the program’s best conference finish.

UT Martin will return to action in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament after earning the No. 1 seed and a double bye. The Skyhawks will have to wait to find out their opponent before opening play on Friday, March 7 at noon.

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Skyhawks’ Butler named TSWA Player of the Week, Jones is Co-Freshman of the Week

Skyhawks’ Butler named TSWA Player of the Week, Jones is Co-Freshman of the Week

Posted on 26 February 2014 by Allen

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The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team took home a pair of weekly honors this afternoon as senior Heather Butler was selected as the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week while freshman Ashia Jones took home adidas Ohio Valley Conference Co-Freshman of the Week honors.

Butler garnered Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honors from the TSWA after moving into 24th place on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with her 10th 20-point plus game in the last 13 outings this season. The Medina, Tenn., native posted 29 points with six 3-pointers in an 84-67 victory over Murray State, giving the senior guard 2,738 career points. She reached double figures for the 124th consecutive game, which ranks eighth on the all-time NCAA list. This is Butler’s second TSWA Player of the Week honor on the season.

After being named both OVC Player and Freshman of the Week last week, Jones tallied her fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Murray State. Jones has stretched her double figure scoring streak to 12 consecutive games, while scoring 20 points or more in four straight contests. This marks the fifth time this season in which Jones has taken home at least a share of the OVC weekly honor.

The Skyhawks will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 27 when they cap off the road portion of the schedule with a trip to Eastern Illinois. Tipoff from Lantz Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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UT Martin’s Butler and Newsome named finalists for Nancy Lieberman Award

UT Martin’s Butler and Newsome named finalists for Nancy Lieberman Award

Posted on 24 February 2014 by Allen

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today that University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball senior duo of Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome have been named finalists for the 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award. Named after Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, the award recognizes the top point guard in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. The original watch list of candidates was narrowed down to 22 finals by a nationally based committee.

Butler has been a model of consistency for the Skyhawks throughout her career, ranking 24th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with 2,738 career points. She ranks as UT Martin’s all-time leading scorer, along with sitting atop the Ohio Valley Conference leaderboard. A native of Medina, Tenn., Butler is the NCAA active leader with 124 consecutive games in which she has scored in double digits. Her 124 games in which she has scored double figures ranks eighth in NCAA history. She has tallied 367 three-point field goals in her career, ranking eighth in the NCAA.

Newsome ranks second in program history with 2,470 career points while ranking fourth on the OVC’s all-time leaderboard. A Millington, Tenn. native, Newsome is a two-time OVC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year recipient. She was one of the preseason Lieberman Watch List candidates after becoming the program’s first Associated Press All-American last season. Newsome ranks amongst league leaders with 19 points, 5.4 assists, 2.7 steals and 0.4 blocks per game this season.

“We are honored to be recognizing these 22 athletes for their strengths, skills and commitment to the game of basketball and are excited to move forward in the selection process,” Lieberman said. “All of these young women deserved to be on the list for this well-respected award and deserve recognition for their determination.”
A premier Selection Committee made up of top college basketball personnel including Hall of Famers, media members, head coaches and sports information directors was appointed by the Hall of Fame to review the candidates. The list will be narrowed down to a final five by March and the winner will be announced during Final Four weekend activities.

Previous winners of the Nancy Lieberman Award include last year’s recipient Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Sue Bird (Connecticut), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Connecticut), Lindsey Harding (Duke), Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga), Temeka Johnson (LSU), Kristi Toliver (Maryland), Ivory Latta (North Carolina) and Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State).

The 2014 Nancy Lieberman Award candidates are Odyssey Sims (Baylor), Jerica Coley (FIU), Yashira Delgado (Florida State), Damika Martinez (Iona College), Ashley Deary (Northwestern), Tiffany Bias (Oklahoma State), Fantasia Hilliard (Sacramento State), Amber Orrange (Stanford), Natasha Cloud (St. Joseph’s), Joanna Harden (Troy), Brittany Boyd (California-Berkley), Bria Hartley (Connecticut), Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut), Samantha Logic (Iowa), Valencia McFarland (Ole Miss), Lindsay Allen (Notre Dame), Jamierra Faulkner (Southern Miss), Heather Butler (UT Martin), Jasmine Newsome (UT Martin), Andola Dortch (Toledo), Jennifer Schlott (Utah State) and Dequesha McClanahan (Winthrop).

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Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 F
Alabama 33 West Virginia 23 F
Arkansas 21 Auburn 45 F
LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

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