UT Martin wrapped up non conference play with a 80-76 loss to the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana Saturday afternoon. Forward Myles Taylor put on a career game and led the Skyhawks with his second double-double of the season as the junior forward scored 34 points and collected 11 rebounds but it wasn’t enough as the Skyhawks went cold down the stretch.
UT Martin started off slow and trailed by as many as nine points in the first half but the Skyhawks ability to take advantage of Southeastern Louisiana’s ability to foul numerous times in the first half (18). UTM looked like they had the win but a 7-0 run by the Lions doomed the Skyhawks from ending the non conference schedule with a win. Behind Taylor, the Skyhawks shot just 12 of 37 as no one else stepped up for UT Martin. Off the bench, Justin Childs was five of six and had 12 points but UTM’s starting guards combined to shot for 3 of 14 from the field. “Our guys saw Myles was having a great night and forgot they are great players too,” Head Coach Jason James said.
The game saw the return of Taylor to the starting lineup for the first time this month and the Skyhawks offense ran through the forward early. The game began with the Skyhawks turning the Lions over three times in the opening minute but the Skyhawks wouldn’t be able to convert the possessions into points. The first six UTM points came from the free-throw line as the Skyhawks drove to the basket. The free throws were important for the Skyhawks who opened the game shooting just one of seven from the field.Trailing 14-8, the Skyhawks used a 6-0 run to trim the Lion lead to two midway through the first half. The Lions regrouped with a 14-7 run to push the lead to nine at the under eight media timeout.
The Skyhawks heated up to late in the first half going on a 12-3 run just before the final media timeout to tie the game at 33 as guard Mike Liabo hit his first two shots of the game in that span. With the first half coming to an end, it was Taylor coming up huge as the junior forward collected an offensive rebound, scored and converted his third and-one of the half to give UT Martin the 45-44 halftime lead.
Fouls where the biggest item in the first half as the Skyhawks reached the double bonus with over 10 minutes left in the first half and the Lions reached the bonus with nine minutes remaining. The Skyhawks shot almost as many free throws as field goals in the first half going 18 of 25 from the line in the opening half while shooting (11) of (27) from the field. Southeastern Louisiana who had seven players see action in every game this season had all seven with at least two fouls in the opening half.
The second half began with UT Martin getting to the free throw line once again, as their first three offensive possessions ended with free throws. Just before the first media timeout, UTM guard DeMarc Richardson prevented a breakaway layup by Lions’ guard Jeffery Ricard who got upset over the foul and was issued a technical foul.
After the foul, the two teams traded baskets for the majority of the second half as the Lions attempted to contain Taylor who turned his focus to the glass. Midway through the second half, Taylor collected five straight rebounds for the Skyhawks. With the Skyhawks leading by five with just over four minutes remaining, Southeastern Louisiana used a 7-0 run to take a 76-74 lead with under a minute remaining. The Lions looked to seal the win by forward Antonnio Benton but the forward dribbled the ball out of bounds with 30 seconds remaining. With the Skyhawks looking to tie it up, this would happen:Taylor blocked leading the UTM loss.
- The goal for the Skyhawks was for Taylor to be back to 100% before conference opened for UTM and it seems that it has come true for the Skyhawks. Taylor has 22 points in the first half, making seven of the team’s 12 shots and continues to be a great free throw shooter.
- Mike Liabo who missed the team’s first seven games due to a violation of team rules, still has the green light to shoot whenever he wishes but the senior guard has gotten smarter. He has cut down on taking poor shots and only averages two turnovers per contest.
- While UT Martin has the ability to drive into the paint, they still are lacking the ability to finish games out. Going one of six down the stretch and the inablity to hit big shots still continue to plague the Skyhawks.
Southeastern Louisiana Head Coach James Yarbrough Jr. said the key for his team’s win was “Shutting down Terence Smith, who I believe is their best player in my opinion.” Smith finished the game with 12 points but was just 1-7 from the field.
UT Martin Coach James:
“We just weren’t able to execute down the stretch, we only had five turnovers but two or three came in the last few minutes and you can’t do that and win basketball games.”
On Taylor: “He was a load down there and when he is getting to the free throw line he is really hard to guard but it doesn’t mean much when you don’t win and that is what he is focused on.”
Guard play: “We tried to shuffle it up some but everyone just needs to play better. When it comes down to an execution standpoint we just didn’t. Is it time to panic? No and I still think we have a chance to be a really good basketball team but we need to learn to execute late.”
Grade for non conference play: “Obviously you would like to win a few more games than we did, I thought we had three or four home games we should have won those. You have to play those “money games” as well. Not an A or a B, but not a F or a D. We are probably average and have a long way to go to where we need to be but we are a lot further along than we have been in the past.”