By Layne Weitzel, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Visiting UT Martin overpowered Tennessee Tech in a Saturday night contest at the Hoop, taking the win by a score of 67-51.
The Skyhawks have taken 10 of the last 11 games in the series, with Tech's home win last season breaking a nine-game win streak.
Defensively, Tech was solid—the Golden Eagles held one of the best scoring teams in the Ohio Valley Conference under its season average of 71.9 points per game. UT Martin also had entered tonight's contest as second-best in the OVC in 3-pointers, averaging eight per game along with a 3-point field goal percentage of 35.6, and was limited to just four 3-pointers and a 3-point shooting percentage of 25.0.
It was Tech's offense that didn't hold up.
"We couldn't do enough on the offensive end tonight. Fifty-one points is not going to win you many basketball games," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "I felt like the last four games, we really improved offensively, and tonight, we totally abandoned our offense and didn't run an offense. (It was) just a really tough night offensively."
Tech got off to a promising 5-0 start in the game's opening quarter, but UT Martin responded with a 13-0 run to shut the Golden Eagles out for the remainder of the quarter. Tech headed into the locker room down 29-17, held to just a 22.2 field goal percentage in the first half.
The Golden Eagles got back on track in the third quarter with their best field goal percentage of the game (46.7). Tech outscored UT Martin 19-13 in the quarter, with the help of three 3-pointers from Yaktavia "Shug" Hickson, to end the period trailing just 42-36.
But the Skyhawks extended their lead midway through the fourth quarter, forcing Tech to foul them to regain possession. Eight of UT Martin's 10 points inside the last two minutes of the game came from free throws.
Hickson led all players in scoring with her first 20-point game of the season and was just two rebounds shy of a double-double. She also had a team-leading three steals and hit a season-high four 3-pointers. The senior was named the First National Bank of Tennessee-Special Olympics Player of the Game.
"Today's disappointing because we feel like we took a step back," said Rosamond. "I've got to figure out how we can start better and faster, and whatever that is, we've got to be willing to do it, accept it, get out of the gates better and not dig a hole. Then, when we have those games right there at the end in the fourth quarter, we've got to execute.
"We can't stop believing, we can't stop trusting and we can't start questioning – we've just got to keep working and just do what we're doing a little bit better. The process isn't fun right now. It's not fun for any of us, but I think we've got a great group of young women in that locker room. Nobody's giving up, nobody's going to quit fighting, nobody's packing it in – you see that. I thought they continued to fight. Tonight just was a really tough night for us offensively, and it showed in the final score."