Skyhawks lose a close one to Arkansas State 76-74

Skyhawks lose a close one to Arkansas State 76-74

The Skyhawk women’s basketball team battled to the end against Arkansas State, but the Skyhawks could not pick up the win as they dropped their home opener to the Red Wolves, 76-74.

The Skyhawks (1-2) came into this game after splitting their season opening two game road trip at the Iowa Hawkeye Classic, where they defeated North Dakota 84-58 and lost to No. 23 Iowa 62-56.

UTM took control of the game early, jumping out to a quick 16-4 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.  However, an 8-0 run by the Red Wolves saw them cut the UTM lead down to three points at the end of the first quarter.

From there, it was back-and-forth basketball for the remainder of the game.  The Skyhawks tried to pull away from Arkansas State, but could not manage to jump out to anything larger than an eight point lead.  Eventually, the Red Wolves clawed their way back into the game and finally took the 32-30 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

Arkansas State would then hold onto that lead for the remainder of the first half and went into the locker room at halftime with a 34-32 lead.

UTM quickly retook the lead in the opening minute of the second half, but the Red Wolves snatched it back. However, Arkansas State could not shake off the Skyhawks as they could only manage to stretch their lead out to five points. The Skyhawks swapped the lead with the Red Wolves eight times in the second half.

Eventually, the Red Wolves managed to grab the lead and extend it by seven with less than two minutes remaining in the game.  The Skyhawks would eventually fight back and cut the Arkansas State lead to two with seven seconds remaining. The Skyhawks had an opportunity to either tie the game with a two-point shot or take the lead with a 3-pointer, but a costly turnover with three seconds remaining squandered the Skyhawks’ chances at a win, and Arkansas State escaped the Elam Center with a 76-74 win.

UTM had four players finish with double-digit points. Haley Howard led the team with 22 points, four rebounds and four assists. She was followed by Jessy Ward, who shot all 15 of her points from behind the 3-point arch (5-6), Katie Schubert, who tallied 14 points and five assists and DaiJai Ruffin, who came off the bench and scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Overall, the Skyhawks shot 51 percent (27-53) and shot 56 percent from outside the 3-point arch (10-18). UTM’s biggest troubles came from the free-throw line, where they shot 67 percent (10-15).

The RedWolves were led by Aundrea Gamble, who scored 22 points, and Khadija Brown-Haywood, who tallied 14 points and eight rebounds.

A majority of Arkansas State’s shots came in the paint, where they scored 48 of their 76 points. Arkansas State overall shot 54 percent (33-61), 33 percent from outside the 3-point arch (5-15) and 83 percent from the free-throw line (5-6). The Red Wolves also out rebounded UTM 33-24.

After the game, UTM head coach Kevin McMillan talked about his team’s effort.

“This was one of the most poorly executed games that one of my teams has done in a long time…That will get fixed,” said McMillan “What I really loved is that the kids never put their head down, never quit.  We kept battling and battling and if they keep doing that we’ll fix all of the other stuff.”

The Skyhawks will return to action this Saturday when they take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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