UTM women claim second straight OVC Tourney Championship
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team is going dancing once again, earning the Ohio Valley Conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season with an 82-65 victory over Tennessee Tech at the Municipal Auditorium this afternoon.
UT Martin (23-8) punched its ticket today by using a critical run midway through the second half. The Skyhawks led 36-34 at the halftime break but found themselves trailing by six points with 13:48 left to play before unreeling a 13-0 run to go ahead 58-51 with 10:12 remaining. Tennessee Tech wouldn’t get within five points the rest of the way, as Butler would later run off seven straight points of her own to put the game out of reach.
The Skyhawks were led in scoring by Heather Butler, who poured in 35 points on 11-for-20 shooting to go along with an 11-for-12 effort at the charity stripe. Jasmine Newsome added 26 points (10-of-14 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from three-point range), 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and a pair of blocks for UT Martin, who extended its winning streak to 14 games this afternoon.
The game was tied at 51-all with 12 minutes to play, but Newsome racked up seven straight points for UT Martin, including a long three-pointer to cap off the Skyhawks’ aforementioned 13-0 run. Newsome – who won OVC Player of the Year honors this season – was named to the All-Tournament squad while Butler also was named to the squad and in addition brought home the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
“It was a nerve-racking game for us,” Skyhawk head coach Kevin McMillan said. “Tennessee Tech did a good job of keeping us out of the flow. Finally in the second half we got some rhythm and Butler and Newsome took over.”
A year ago, McMillan and the Skyhawks went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, traveling to Durham, NC to take on the Duke Blue Devils. This time around, the team will learn its fate on Monday, March 12 at 7 p.m., when the NCAA announces its pairings on the selection show on ESPN.