The UTM women’s basketball team knocked off the Tennessee State Lady Tigers 77-50 in a rematch of last year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship game, which the Tigers won 64-60 in overtime.
After dropping their conference opener to Eastern Kentucky, the Skyhawks (13-7, 6-1) have won their last six games by double-digit points. It was also the third straight game that the Skyhawks were without leading scorer Daijia Ruffin, who was suspended indefinitely due to a violation of team rules.
The Skyhawks played close with Tennessee State for most of the first half, but a UTM 11-0 run just before the end of the first quarter was the difference as the Skyhawks went to the locker room at haftime with a 35-23 lead.
In the second half, Tennessee State could not muster enough offense or defense to slow down or catch up with the Skyhawks. The Skyhawks extended their lead by as many as 34 points towards the end of the fourth quarter and cruised to a 77-50 win over Tennessee State.
Haley Howard, who recorded a career-high 25 points Sunday against SEMO, led the UTM scoring effort with 22 points. Jessy Ward followed her with 20 points and shot 7-8 and a perfect 6-6 from 3-point range. Shy Copney recorded her first double-double this season, tallying 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Tennessee State was led by Jayda Johnson, who recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Overall the Skyhawks shot 57 percent (26-45), 66 percent from 3-point range (14-21) and 91 percent from the free throw line (11-12). Meanwhile, Tennessee State struggled shooting the ball, hitting 30 percent of their shots (19-63), 10 percent from 3-point range (6-20) and 75 percent from the free throw line (6-8). Tennessee State also out-rebounded the Skyhawks 35-30.
Turnovers were also a big part of the game. UTM forced 22 Lady Tiger turnovers in the game and capitalized off of them, scoring 31 points. But the Skyhawks struggled in the turnover department themselves, turning the ball over 22 times.
“You look on a stat sheet, and you see 14-21 from 3-point range, you got to think that was a huge difference in the game,” said UTM head coach Kevin McMillan. “I thought our defense was pretty good, pretty solid early. We were pressing them and doing a good job in the press, but we switched to a 1-3-1, and that caused them some problems. But I think the biggest key was that we were able to rebound even though we gave up 18 offensive rebounds. We were able to hold our own essentially on the boards. Shy [Copney] getting 10 rebounds was huge, and Emanye [Robertson] handeling the ball was the difference in the ball game.”
The Skyhawk’s next game is Saturday, Jan. 30 when UTM takes on OVC rival Murray State. Tipoff between the Skyhawks and the Racers is scheduled for noon from the Elam Center.