Skyhawks end Panthers winning streak
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 01:03
The Eastern Illinois Panthers came to town riding the momentum of an eight-game winning streak, but the UTM Skyhawks were able to de-rail them 82-62.
The Panthers, who lead the West Division in the Ohio Valley Conference, were simply not making the baskets they needed to win. After a quick 3-pointer from senior forward Shelby Crawford that would give the Skyhawks the early lead, the Panthers responded with a 10-0 run to give them a 10-3 lead over UTM.
The Skyhawks would battle back fueled by seven points from Crawford to trail the Panthers by a score of only 12-11. However, EIU would respond with a 7-0 run and take a firm control of the lead.
With less than 10 minutes left in the first half, the two teams would trade the lead three times with the Skyhawks pulling out to a 49-33 lead that they would take to the locker room at halftime.
The second half was all Skyhawks as they carried their lead from the first half all the way to the end of the game.
The key for UTM all night was their much improved shooting.
“We haven’t shot the ball well basically all year,” said coach McMillan. “But tonight we were able to put the ball in the hole, which is something we haven’t been doing like we thought we could.”
The Skyhawks were 48.5 percent on both field goals and 3-point shots. They were also 66.7 percent on free throws.
Junior guard Heather Butler led the team with 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Fellow guard Jasmine Newsome totaled 17 points, seven rebounds, a team-high nine assists and four steals. Freshman guard Chelsey Hall would come off the bench to score 13 points, also tallying four rebounds. Senior forward Rickiesha Bryant finished the game with 10 rebounds and four blocks, both team highs.
The Skyhawks won’t have much time to celebrate the victory though with the OVC tournament starting next week.
“I think we’ve played ourselves into a tough spot,” said McMillan. “But I do think we’re going to be one of the toughest matchups. I don’t think anyone is going to want to play us in the tournament.”
The OVC tournament starts next Wednesday at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, but the team has one more game to go before they can start eyeing the grand prize.
The Skyhawks will travel to Austin Peay to take on the Governors Saturday March 2. Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m. To keep up with the game, follow The Pacer on Facebook and Twitter, @ThePacer.