Tennessee Martin shot a season-best 60.8 percent from the field Saturday and defeated the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars 79-62 in a men’s basketball game at the Vadalabene Center.
The Skyhawks shot out to an 11-0 lead to start the game and never trailed. UT Martin improved to 13-12 overall and 5-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Cougars fell to 1-10 in the OVC and 4-19 overall.
After UT Martin’s quick start, the Cougars pulled within two points at 29-27 with 5:44 to play in the first half after a Jake Newton three-pointer and a bucket by Carlos Anderson. Newton was the star of the first half for the Cougars with five three-pointers and a team-leading 15 points for the game.
“Each and every one of us loves the game,” Newton said. “We come out every day in practice and get better and enjoy playing the game. It’s a battle every day, but we can battle with the best of them.”
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Burak Eslik and Keenan Simmons joined Newton in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Anderson added six points and tied his career-high with six assists.
“The guys made shots and made plays tonight, and we had some good numbers,” SIUE coach Jon Harris said. “The bottom line was that we didn’t get enough stops, and we didn’t bring our defense with us. We have to be consistent on both ends.”
The Skyhawks carried a 41-38 lead into halftime and quickly extended the advantage following the break. Twymond Howard completed a three-point play when he sank a free throw at 10:20 to push UTM’s lead to 12 and the Cougars never got the deficit back under 10 points.
A Howard jumper at 5:23 gave the Skyhawks their largest lead of the game at 71-52. Howard paced the UT Martin attack with 23 points on 6-of-7 shooting. He was one of four Skyhawks in double figures.
Myles Taylor scored 17 points. Alex Anderson scored 14 points. Kedar Edwards scored 10 points and pulled in 11 rebounds.
Harris said the team continues to make progress despite the final score.
“The guys are on the same page and that part helps,” Harris said. “The guys took a game plan tonight and did a good job executing, and that’s growth.”
The Cougars conclude a four-game home stand Thursday with a 7 p.m. game against Murray State.
UT Martin 85, SIUE 79
UT Martin hit 12 of 22 three-pointers Saturday as the Skyhawks outlasted SIUE 85-79 in a women’s basketball game Saturday at the Vadalabene Center.
The Cougars had their six-game winning streak snapped and dropped to 14-10 overall and 9-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. UT Martin moved into first place with a 16-7 overall record and a 9-1 mark in the OVC.
SIUE held a seven-point lead after three periods and were up by as many as 13 points before UT Martin made a 20-3 run the middle of the fourth period.
“We put ourselves in a good position with a decent lead, but they switched a couple things up and we stopped being the aggressors,” said SIUE Head Coach Paula Buscher. “We had too many turnovers in the big run they had in the fourth and didn’t defend well.”
Five SIUE players finished scoring in double figures, including two with double-doubles. Shronda Butts led the Cougars with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sidney Smith scored 18, including five three-pointers. Donshel Beck recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Gwen Adams pumped in 13 points, and CoCo Moore added 10.
“We did a great job at times against a very good team who plays a drastically different style than we do,” said Buscher. “We did great things defensively. On the offensive end, we made some great reads and got some great baskets. Even when we missed, we had great opportunities.”
The two teams went back and forth in the four periods. SIUE outscored UT Martin in the first and third periods while UT Martin topped SIUE in the second and fourth periods.
“The hardest thing in the game of basketball is stay to aggressive and poised with a lead, and I don’t think we handled that well,” said Buscher.
The Skyhawks, which have now won an OVC-leading nine straight games, hit 12 three-pointers, including four each from Jessy Ward and Haley Howard. Ward and Katie Schubert provided the team lead in scoring with 19 points each. Five players for UT Martin in total also scored in double figures with 14 from Howard, 15 from Shy Copney and 13 from Myah Taylor.
SIUE used its dominance on the boards with a 24-3 edge on second-chance points, but the Skyhawks hit seven of their last eight free throws to hold off the Cougars.
“One of the biggest lessons in this game is that you can always get better. This team has done a great job of learning all year long. We’ll learn from this and move on to the next game,” said Buscher. “I think we’re better than we played tonight.”
The Cougars will look return to the win column Wednesday when Murray State invades the Vadalabene Center for a 7 p.m. contest.