Tennessee Tech almost figured it out. After a series of offensive rebounds led to a timeout, Lashay Davis hit the Golden Eagles sixth three-pointer of the half, giving Tennessee Tech their first lead of the second half with 4:04 to play. Momentum, rebounding, shooting, it all seemed to be going in the Tennessee Tech’s direction as the Golden Eagles had erased a seven point lead in five minutes.
The lead remained three with 1:06 to play. Tennessee Tech had the ball, and a chance to take a two possession lead. A chance to possibly put the nail and the coffin and solve the mystery that was the Skyhawks, the team that had beaten them in two straight OVC championship games.
And then, it all went wrong. A Tennessee Tech turnover gave the ball to UT Martin, who drew a foul on a rebound attempt after a pair of missed free-throws. Chelsey Hall hit two free throws to make it a one-point game, and the Skyhawks needed not one, but four fouls with 12 second to play to put Tennessee Tech on the line. UT Martin got all four…in under three seconds. With :09.2 remaining, it was Davis at the line. She made the first, but the second fell off the front of the rim.
Then it was the OVC Player of the year’s turn. Jasmine Newsome drove to the basket, and put up a game-tying layup with :02.2 to go. A last second heave was no good, and we were poised for overtime.
And that’s where UT Martin, the team that was playing their third game in 48 hours, the team whose legs were supposed to have given out minutes ago, took over. Tennessee Tech, once again, finished as OVC Tournament runner-up.
Quiet Senior Rickiesha Bryant Has Career Day
UT Martin juniors Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome are quite used to the questions from the media. Game after game, they’re usually the ones everyone wants to talk to.
But tonight there was a third.
“I’m sorry ya’ll, I don’t like talking very much,” Bryant whispered into the microphone. The 6-3 senior was a regular starter down the stretch this season, but never had a game like this. 44 minutes, and 20 points, both career highs. Those 20 points came on perfect 8-8 shooting from the field. 3 assists, also career high. And while her 12 rebounds weren’t, it added up to one of the most important performances of Bryant’s career.
“You set a career high, you’ve got to talk for 60 seconds,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said, urging his senior on.
She gave credit to her team, but tonight it was her that deserved much of the credit for the Skyhawks third straight Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship.
Newsome Breaks Scoring Record
After setting a Ohio Valley Conference tournament record during the quarterfinals, it was clear Jasmine Newsome was in for a special tournament.
It proved to be one of the best all time.
Newsome scored 98 points over the Skyhawks three games in Nashville, good enough to break the record for most points in a single tournament. But Newsome didn’t have much to say about her performance, it was about the team.
“It’s a great feeling to like shut everybody up now, the haters,” Newsome said after the win.
Newsome was named OVC Tournament MVP for the second straight season.
Head coach Kevin McMillan said his goal at the beginning of the season was to win an NCAA tournament game. That will be an uphill battle for the Skyhawks. Despite having the highest RPI in the conference, it’s probably likely UT Martin gets a 16-seed, although if there are quite a few small-conference upsets, they might squeak into a 15.
Either way, it will be an uphill climb for the Skyhawks to meet that lofty goal.