On senior night, the Skyhawk men’s basketball team closed out their final home game with a bang, a 72-56 win over the Tennessee State Tigers.
With the win, the Skyhawks (18-12, 10-5 OVC) are still tied atop the Ohio Valley Conference west division standings with Murray State unless the Racers lose Thursday night against Eastern Illinois.
Tennessee State (19-9, 10-5 OVC) were the favorites coming into the game but could not slow down the tough Skyhawk offense.
Tennessee State took the early lead and jumped out to a five point lead less than three minutes into the game, but UTM held tough with Tennessee State and kept the lead to single digits. After trailing by six points (TSU’s largest lead of the game), the Skyhawks reeled off a 16-4 run and retook the lead with 3:33 remaining in the first half. Tennessee State rallied back, but UTM held on and carried a 33-31 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Tennessee State, who is one of the best teams in the conference in defense, could not stop the Skyhawks in the second half. UTM opened the second half with a 10-0 run and jumped out to a 12 point lead. The Skyhawks never looked back for the rest of the game and slowly started to extend their lead. The Skyhawks jumped out to their largest lead of 18 points at the 3:40 mark of the second half. Tennessee State could not find the rhythm in the second half to cut into UTM’s lead. The Skyhawks closed out the game with a 72-56 win over the Tigers.
“I’m just really happy for our kids and, in particular, our seniors,” said UTM head coach Heath Schroyer. “I thought the second half we played extremely well. I thought our adjustments we made in the second half, my staff did an unbelievable job as they always do. It was just a great win, and it’s really nice to see the seniors go out on a win, especially against a really good team like Tennessee State.”
UTM’s two big men, senior forward Myles Taylor and senior forward Twymond Howard led the way for the Skyhawks. Howard led the team with 19 points, and Taylor scored 15 points. Taylor is now only 22 points away from passing Mike Meschede and becoming UTM’s all-time leading scorer (1,729 points).
After picking up three fouls early in the first half, TSU’s leading scorer Keron Deshields spent half of the game on the bench and could only contribute seven points in the game. The Tigers were led by redshirt-junior guard Tahjere McCall, who finished with 16 points. McCall was the only Tiger to finish with double-digit points.
The Skyhawks shot 48 percent overall (24-50) and 41 percent from 3-point range (9-22) but struggled from the free throw line, only shooting 65 percent (15-23). Tennessee State shot 40 percent overall (25-62), 3-3 from the free throw line and struggled from 3-point range, where they shot 16 percent (3-19).
The Skyhawks will close out the regular season with a trip to Murray State Saturday night. Tipoff between the Skyhawks and the Racers is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Photo Credit: UTM Sports Information