Skyhawks' McMillan era begins with exhibition win
Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 6:58 pm
“It feels great to win, it really does,” said McMillan, who was hired this summer to resurrect the UT Martin women’s basketball program. “The kids have been working for three or four weeks getting ready and they were glad to get out on the floor and play someone besides themselves. It was fun to finally get out there and get some of the first game jitters out.”
It was quite a debut for McMillan, as all nine Skyhawks that saw floor time scored at least one basket and every UT Martin played logged at least 15 minutes in the exhibition win.
“We’re going to play everybody,” McMillan said. “All nine players played and everybody that played contributed. In exhibitions, we get to see what kind of combinations to run during the season in terms of offense and defense. I thought this exhibition was a good one for us.”
Tougaloo’s Kim Kern led all scorers with 21 points on seven 3-pointers, while Demara Burton and Victoria Jones each chipped in with 15-point efforts. Jones also pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds (10 offensive) to pace the Bulldogs.
After Tougaloo began the game with a 3-pointer, the Skyhawks answered with a putback by Paige Smith for the first goal of the exhibition season at the 18:15 mark. After the two teams swapped baskets, Tougaloo earned the next four points before a left-wing trey from Cali Cupples cut the deficit to one.
The two teams then traded 3-pointers, before Tougaloo went on a 6-0 run over the next 1:46 – extending the Bulldog lead to seven with 11:51 left before the half. UT Martin answered with an 8-0 run of its own on the strength of two Davis 3-pointers and a Samantha Harper layup.
Tougaloo came back to tie the game two more times before the Skyhawks took over the last four minutes of the half. The Skyhawks used baskets from four different players to go on a 10-0 run in 4:26, moving ahead 35-25 on a layup by Ward with a little over a minute left.
Kern converted a 3-pointer from the left side with 40 seconds left before halftime, giving the Skyhawks a 35-28 lead heading into the break.
At the half, eight different Skyhawks had gotten into the scoring column, led by Harper’s eight points. Harper also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, as the UT Martin defense held Tougaloo to 34.5 percent shooting (10-for-29) in the game’s first 20 minutes. Kern had nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range to lead all scorers.
UT Martin began the second half by scoring the first five points on a Davis layup and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Pace. Tougaloo responded by scoring the next four points, before Alecia Weatherly scored her first bucket of the game on a layup with 17:01 left.
A Kern trey cut the Skyhawk lead back to single-digits at 42-35 with 16:40 left, but four unanswered points by UT Martin pushed their advantage back out to 11.
Tougaloo crept back to within five points with 9:39 left on a pair of Shalenia Wilcher free throws, but the Skyhawks scored on their next two trips down the floor to extend the lead to 55-46.
A deep 3-pointer from Kern once again sliced UT Martin’s lead to five heading into the media timeout at the 6:43 mark. The Skyhawks answered with a 10-0 run to give them their biggest lead of the game at 69-54, but a Tougaloo 11-2 run then made the score 71-65 with under two minutes left.
Both teams scored on layup opportunities before UT Martin hit four straight free throws to lead 77-67. Fouled on a 3-pointer, Bolton hit all three free throws – but a pair of Ward free throws with 13 seconds left iced the 79-70 victory.
UT Martin returns to action on Wednesday night when it hosts Belmont with tipoff at 7 in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center on campus.