UTM comes out of overtime with OVC championship
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013 15:03
In the Ohio Valley Conference championship the Skyhawks of UTM took down the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech in an overtime thriller 87-80.
Both teams got off to quick starts, but neither were able to separate themselves from one another. The first half was a constant struggle for power with the score being tied four times with a total of eight lead changes.
For most of the half any lead that either team pulled out to wasn't much more than a two-possession lead. However, the Skyhawks got hot as the half was winding down and pulled out to a 37-31 lead. UTM would extend their lead to 45-38 before they left the court for halftime.
As the second half got underway, the Skyhawks were unable to clip the Golden Eagles' wings as they went on a 5-0 run to put them only one point behind UTM. The Skyhawks were able to hold TTU off momentarily, but with 4:04 left to play the Golden Eagles took a 70-67 lead.
Two free throws from junior guard Jasmine Newsome with 3:36 left on the clock would put the Skyhawks within one point of the lead, but TTU was able to hit a layup to put themselves back out to a three-point lead.
The Skyhawks trailed by one point with 12 seconds left and they knew they needed to send TTU to the line to get a chance to win the game. Luckily, they drew all four that they needed and sent TTU's Lashay Davis to the line for two free throw shots. The first one sunk with ease and the second was rebounded by senior forward Rickiesha Bryant.
Newsome then drove the ball down the court and dropped in a layup to tie the game at 73-73 with two seconds left. TTU attempted a buzzer-beater, but it fell short and the teams were scheduled for overtime.
UTM got the ball at the tipoff of overtime and quickly jumped out to a 77-73 lead. They wouldn't look back as they controlled the ball for the remainder of the overtime period and went on to win 87-80.
"I thought the three games were very similar," said head coach Kevin McMillan after the win. "The Eastern Kentucky game in the first round, we were down 14-0 and it didn't look real good. Yesterday against Eastern Illinois we were down with two minutes to play...This one was down to the last seconds, but you had to have plays from somebody."
Fortunately, the Skyhawks had plays from a lot of somebody's.
Newsome led the team with 34 points, which, in addition to her 64 points coming into the game, set a new record for most points scored in tournament history with 98. She also had four rebounds and led the team in both assists with three and steals with four. Junior guard Heather Butler racked up 24 points, two rebounds and three assists.
The unsung hero for UTM during the tournament has been Bryant. Bryant scored 20 points, a career-high, and posted 12 rebounds. She shot one-hundred percent from the floor. She also had a career best in field goals with eight, minutes played with 44 and assists with three.
The win gives the Skyhawks their thirds straight OVC championship and will send them to their third straight NCAA tournament.
ESPN Selection Monday is Monday, March 18. To find out who the Skyhawks will play, follow The Pacer on Facebook and Twitter, @ThePacer.