Tenn. Martin wins OVC title
Victory hands Skyhawks program's first NCAA berth
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jasmine Newsome scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures and Tennessee Martin won its first Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship, clinching the Skyhawks' first trip to the NCAA tournament with an 82-76 victory against regular-season champ Tennessee Tech on Saturday.
Tennessee Martin might be best known as Tennessee coach Pat Summitt's alma mater, a program that worked its way up from NAIA to Division I. Now the Skyhawks (21-10), the second-seeded team with a roster loaded with nine freshmen, has won their first OVC title in their third time in the championship game. The Skyhawks played for the title in 1998 and 1999.
This was the 19th time for Tennessee Tech (23-7) in this title game, but the Golden Eagles missed a league-best 10th title.
Heather Butler had 21 points for the Skyhawks. Taylor Hall had 13, Alecia Weatherly 11 and Perica Glenn 10.
Tacarra Hayes had 33 points for Tennessee Tech, while Molly Heady added 14 and Kylie Cook 11.
The Skyhawks barely outshot Tennessee Tech, but they really made Tennessee Tech pay for its turnovers. They outscored the Golden Eagles 24-7 on 12 turnovers and had a dominating edge at the free-throw line, making more shots there (25 of 29) than Tennessee Tech attempted (14).
The Golden Eagles also couldn't overcome cold shooting in the first half, when they hit just 33.3 percent (11 of 33).
Tennessee Tech scored the first four points with Brittany Darling getting a couple layups. Butler hit a pair of free throws to tie it up, and Tennessee Tech tied it up for the last time at 10-10 on another layup by Darling.
Newsome hit a jumper in the paint with 11:30 left to put Tennessee Martin ahead to stay. Tennessee Martin led 34-25 at halftime and pushed that lead out to 17 points in the second half.
Tennessee Tech made it interesting late as Hayes hit a 3 and Kylie Cook hit another 3 with 1:27 left to pull the Golden Eagles within 74-67. Heady's 3 with 15.3 seconds left trimmed it to 80-73.
But the Skyhawks hit all 12 of their free throws in the final 2:50 to clinch the title.