Strong third quarter lifts UT Martin WBB to 75-59 win over Tennessee State

 Strong third quarter lifts UT Martin WBB to 75-59 win over Tennessee State

After a tightly contested matchup in the first half, the UT Martin women’s basketball team used a 24-point third quarter to key a 75-59 victory over OVC foe Tennessee State in the team’s final game at home this season.

The Skyhawks (12-16, 8-9 OVC) opened the third quarter on a quick 8-0 run to push out their advantage before closing the final four minutes of the period on another 11-0 run to give the squad a sizable 21-point lead heading into the fourth. While Tennessee State challenged in the fourth quarter, the margin never got closer than 14 points as UT Martin cruised to a victory in the home finale.

On “We Back Pat” Night, UT Martin used its stingy defense to key the team’s offense on the court that adorns the legendary head coach and alumnus Pat Head Summitt’s name. The Skyhawks forced the Lady Tigers to commit 29 turnovers on the night while converting those opportunities into 32 points off turnovers. Along with the team’s stingy play on the defensive side of the ball, the Skyhawks also capitalized on their free throw opportunities where they knocked down 27-of-29 (93.1 percent) free throw chances.

After two of the team’s key contributors in eight-time OVC Freshman of the Week Sharnecce Currie-Jelks and graduate guard Paige Pipkin missed the last matchup against Tennessee State in Nashville, the tandem carried a heavy load for the Skyhawks tonight. Currie-Jelks tallied her sixth 20-point outing of the season after scoring a game-high 27 points while also recording six rebounds and four steals. Meanwhile, Pipkin made 7-of-15 shot attempts for 17 points – including 10 in the first half.

Keeping with the theme of Skyhawk returns, sophomore Shae Littleford rejoined the squad after missing three games with an injury. Her return was valuable for the home squad as she recorded her fifth 20-point performance of the season while drawing eight fouls which led to going 13-of-14 at the charity stripe.

Tennessee State (11-16, 7-10 OVC) shot 52.2 percent from the field but saw its offense be stifled by numerous turnovers. The visitors had a balanced scoring output with three players reaching double figures – led by 14 points from Gia Adams. The Lady Tigers were rounded out by Erica Haynes-Overton (14) and Kianni Westbrook (10) who also scored in double digits.

UT Martin concludes the regular season Saturday on the road at Morehead State. Tipoff is at noon on WCMT.