UTM FG: 27-52 (51.9%)
|BELM 3PT: 8-25 (32.0%)|
UTM 3PT: 9-15 (60.0%)
|BELM FT: 6-7 (85.7%)
UTM FT: 15-18 (83.3%)
|BELM OPPP: 1.010||UTM OPPP: 1.172|
|Points:||Jordyn Luffman (16)|
Frankie Joubran (13)
Two tied with 10
|Jasmine Newsome (25)
Ashia Jones (16)
Two tied with 12
|Rebounds:||Frankie Joubran (10)||Jasmine Newsome (7)|
|Assists:||Taylor Mills (6)||Jasmine Newsome (6)|
For the past four seasons, Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler have been two of the most well-known and respected players in the Ohio Valley Conference.
They’ll leave UT Martin having never lost in the OVC Tournament.
Newsome scored a game-high 25 points on her way to being named the OVC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, as UT Martin won their fourth-straight OVC Tournament title, 78-66 over the Belmont Bruins. The top seeded Skyhawks trailed just once in the game’s opening minute, before leading the final 38:58 to lock up another title.
UT Martin opened the game hitting five straight shots from the field to open up a 13-3 lead, but unlike their semifinal matchup against Eastern Kentucky, couldn’t put the Bruins away. The Skyhawks would miss their next seven shots, as solid defense kept the Bruins in it.
“We wanted the game to be kind of our style, or our pace,” UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan said. “I thought they would have trouble playing it. But we couldn’t make them play them play the way we wanted them to play.
With the lead cut to four, Newsome would take over, scoring 13 of the Skyhawks next 15 points. But the lead shrunk again, with the Bruins pulling as close as a single point off a three-pointer from Taylor Mills with 3:33 remaining in the half. The Skyhawks would end the half on a 9-2 run, hitting a buzzer-beater to take an eight point lead into the locker room.
Just as they did in the first half, UT Martin opened the second half with a flourish, hitting their first seven shots to pull ahead by as much as 15. But once again, the Bruins defense locked down, holding the Skyhawks without a field goal for nearly six minutes. But as was the case in the opening 20 minutes, once again Belmont couldn’t cut deep into the lead, still trailing by eight with 8:18 remaining.
Down 10 in the final four minutes, Carroll hits a three to pull Belmont within seven. But UT Martin responded with back-to-back three’s, sealing the win, and the championship for the Skyhawks.
“To win four championships,” McMillan said, “I don’t think we ever dreamed of that when I recruited them, and when I told them when they were high school seniors, ‘Hey, we’re gonna win some games.’ ”
After the game, Newsome and Butler were among the players named to the all-tournament team. After accepting their awards, Newbauer, a former assistant at Louisville and Georgia pulled the seniors aside, and says he told them to go win in the NCAA Tournament.
“I know what the highest level is,” Newbauer said, “and I know you guys can go beat someone. That’s what you need to do.”
When asked to reflect on his own season, his first at the helm of Belmont, Newbauer became quite emotional.
“Fun. Learning,” Newbauer said, holding back tears.
“Emotional?” a media member asked, following a long pause.
“Just proud of our kids,” Newbauer responded. “They brought it tonight, and they believed. As a coach…” Newbauer paused again. “That’s what you want them to do. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort or how hard they played.”
Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin
Heather Butler, UT Martin
Jordyn Luffman, Belmont
Katie Carroll, Belmont
Marie Carpenter, Eastern Kentucky
Most Valuable Player
Jasmine Newsome, UT Martin
|Turnover %||Off. Reb %||eFG%||FT Rate|
Photos Courtesy: Michael Dann