Skyhawks handle Panthers

Jehad Abbed, Assistant Sports Editor

The University of Tennessee-Martin men’s basketball team shot over 60 percent in its 81-51 victory over Eastern.

Junior forward Twymond Howard led the Skyhawks with 22 points and 11 rebounds. He was a perfect 10-of-10 at the free throw line.

Tennessee-Martin (13-7) led all but a minute of the entire game despite trading baskets with Eastern (12-9) in the first half after taking a 5-0 lead.

“We did not guard as well as we needed to tonight,” Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour said. “They shot it great, but we could have done better.”

Junior forward Trae Anderson connected on an elbow jump shot assisted by junior guard LeTrell Viser with 10:16 left in the first half. The shot tied the game between the Panthers and the Skyhawks. This was the closest Eastern would come to grabbing a lead in the game Thursday night.

Anderson ended the game with a team-high 14 points and five rebounds for the Panthers.  Eastern had just 16 defensive rebounds on the game because of the highly efficient offense of the Skyhawks.

Tennessee-Martin missed 18 shots for the entire game, which led to the low defensive rebounding numbers for the Panthers.

The Skyhawks also shot unusually well from beyond the arc. They connected on 55% of their three-point shot attempts against Eastern.  Junior guard Alex Anderson led Tennessee-Martin with 4-of-5 three-point shooting.

“They really are hard to guard,” Spoonhour said. “They got us to where we were chasing them and everything they shot went in.”

A minute after the Panthers tied the game in the first half, sophomore forward Chandler Rowe got an offensive rebound and tip-in for two points that gave the Skyhawks every ounce of momentum in the game.

Alex Anderson went on to follow Rowe’s big play with nine straight points coming from behind the three-point line. The 11-point swing would turn into a 26-5 run to close out the half for the Skyhawks.

“I didn’t like the energy we had defensively,” Spoonhour said. “I still think they just shot it in awful well.”

The trend continued into the second half where Eastern was outscored 38-29 by Tennessee-Martin.

Spoonhour said the Panthers came out and did what they wanted to do in the second half, but they just were not making the open shots.

Senior guard Dylan Chatman was the only other Panther who scored in double digits. Chatman had 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting along with two steals.

Tennessee-Martin stood above Eastern in every statistical category as a team Thursday night. Skyhawks coach Heath Schroyer said all the little things the team does well add up to make for a win.

“We have a philosophy here,” Schroyer said. “We major in the minors.”

This marks Eastern’s third straight loss following a nine-game win streak that was snapped by Murray State a week ago.

“You can’t dwell on it,” Spoonhour said. “Because we do have a game Saturday.”

The Panthers look to get back on track when they head to their home court this weekend.

Eastern faces Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at 3:15 pm on Saturday at Lantz Arena.

Jehad Abbed can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].