By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Lady Colonels (18-11, 11-6 OVC) were eliminated from the OVC Tournament Thursday, falling 78-63 to UT-Martin (16-15, 11-6 OVC) at Municipal Auditorium.
The Lady Colonels came out on fire hitting four consecutive three pointers to open the game on their way to a 14-0 lead.
The Lady Colonels built their lead to as much as 17 points in the first half as Martin had trouble getting into any rhythm offensively.
Thanks in part to some early foul trouble for EKU, the Lady Skyhawks steadily chipped away at the lead and trimmed the deficit to 34-28 by the half.
Two quick baskets by Marie Carpenter helped EKU to a 38-31 lead, but then the Lady Skyhawks came alive, especially guards Jasmine Newsome and Heather Butler.
Newsome, who accounted for most of the Martin’s offensive output in the first half, added 15 more in the second on her way to an OVC Tournament single-game scoring record of 41 points.
Butler, who struggled in the first half, scored all her 21 points in the second half.
“They’re a great team with two great players in Butler and Newsome and it was only a matter of time before they were going to start knocking down some shots,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “But, I’m proud of the way we came out today and from start to finish we fought, made sacrifices for each other and had everybody’s back for 40 minutes. I’m really proud of them.”
Newsome gave Martin its first lead of the game with 15 minutes to go, but EKU fought back and regained the lead and pushed it out to 47-42 on baskets by Alex Jones, Shelly Harper and a steal and bucket by Jalisa Bryant with 10 minutes left.
The lead changed hands four more times before Martin took the lead for good at 51-50 on a basket by Butler.
Martin then went on an 8-2 run to pull out to a 59-50 lead and EKU could never get closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Carpenter led the way for the Lady Colonels with 22 points. Bryant was the only other Lady Colonel in double figures with 16.
Shelly Harper finished with eight points, while Brittany Coles had six, Alex Jones had five, Raechele Gray had four and LaRa’e Allen had two points.
The Lady Colonels battled foul trouble all game as they were whistled for 27 fouls to only 13 on the Lady Skyhawks. Martin shot 37 free throws, hitting 31, while EKU shot 14 and hit 10 of those.
Roberts didn’t try to hide her displeasure with the foul discrepancy in the game.
“Anytime a team shoots 37 free throws and you shoot 14 it’s going to be tough to win the game. We were aggressive on the offensive end too, but we just couldn’t get any calls,” Roberts said. “That’s just the way it happens. I told our kids to attack and hang in there. We knew we needed to get to the free throw line, but it was a little bit tougher for us to get there.”
The Lady Colonels shot 31 percent from the field and 30 percent from behind the three point line.
Martin was a cold nine-of-35 for 25.7 percent in the first half but thanks to 12-of-24 shooting in the second half, finished shooting 35.6 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from behind the arc.
The Lady Skyhawks out-rebounded the Lady Colonels 51-41.
Roberts said it was tough saying good-bye to her seniors but said they should be proud of what they accomplished in their EKU careers.
“I would have loved for those seniors to go out with a championship, but we accomplished a lot of good things this season and battled all season, even through adversity, so I’m proud of them,” Roberts said. “This program has nowhere to go but up. We want to make these seniors proud. They came here and helped get this thing turned around and we’re going to continue to work hard for them and for everybody cheering for us.”