UTM women rally past Murray State 85-67
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team would trail by as much as 18 points in the first quarter before dominating Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State in the final three quarters of play to stretch its winning streak to four games with an 85-67 victory.
The Skyhawks (12-12, 8-4 OVC) would struggle out of the gates as the Racers pushed the tempo and ultimately took an 18-point lead with 2:24 to play in the first quarter. After the sizable shortcomings to start the game, UT Martin would take control of the contest from there, not only erasing the large deficit but later pushing out a lead of their own as large as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
UT Martin would find balanced contributions from throughout the lineup with four players scoring in double figures. Sophomore guard Kendall Spray would once again steal the show, leading all scorers with 34 points while knocking down eight three-pointers for the fifth time in her young career. Freshman Chelsey Perry would also notch an impressive outing by scoring 17 points while both Emanye Robertson and Janekia Mason tallied 12 points each.
“I was really disappointed with how we came out of the gates,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “I give them credit because they played so hard and made us scrap our gameplan and rotations that we have been using a lot lately. It’s challenging because we can be the first quarter team or the one that looked really good in the second, third and fourth. Thankfully, I think we got embarrassed and it forced the kids to turn it up in the final three quarters. I am proud of this team though because it is hard to dig yourself out of an 18-point hole and still win the way they did.”
Murray State (8-15, 4-8 OVC) saw three players score in double figures, led by the play of Bria Bethea with 20 points and eight rebounds. Ke’Shunan James tallied 12 points and seven rebounds while Jasmine Borders chipped in 11 points to round out the Racers in double figures.
The Racers wasted little time jumping out to a big start on the Skyhawks. After the game would be tied at two points each, Murray State rattled off a 15-0 run over the course of the next five minutes before a three-pointer by Myah Taylor finally snapped a lengthy scoring drought. The Racers would stay aggressive down the stretch, pushing their lead out to 18 points before taking a 25-13 lead into the second quarter.
UT Martin would cut into the margin in the opening minutes of the second quarter after beginning the period on a 10-0 run in the first three minutes. The Skyhawks would battle back from the 18-point deficit and retake the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter on a layup by Robertson with just over four minutes to play. UT Martin would ultimately outscore Murray State 28-16 in the second to knot the game at 41-each at halftime.
The Skyhawks continued their strong play into the third quarter, outscoring the Racers 21-11 in the period. Highlighting the quarter was an 11-2 run over three minutes which featured three trifectas from Spray to continue to build upon the team’s lead. After 30 minutes of action, UT Martin would hold a 62-52 advantage over Murray State.
With control in hand, UT Martin put the game away down the stretch. Winning their third quarter of the game, the Skyhawks outscored the Racers 23-15 in the fourth quarter to secure an 85-67 victory.
UT Martin will take a break from its string of home games with a road contest at OVC foe Eastern Kentucky on Thursday, Feb. 8. Tipoff from McBrayer Arena is 4:30 p.m. CST.