Top seed goes down in OVC tournament

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

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The first round of the women’s basketball OVC tournament featured the biggest upset in the tournament’s history as Tennessee-Martin fell to Murray State, 78-76.

Tennessee-Martin took on Murray State, and Belmont took on Tennessee State in the opening day of the tournament.

Murray State became the first No. 8 seed to defeat the top seed in tournament history, since it moved to an eight-team format in 1997. The Racers jumped out to an early lead over Tennessee-Martin, 11-2, but the Skyhawks fought back to take the lead in the first before a three-point play to end the quarter for Murray State made it 19-17 in their favor.

The second quarter was similar as the Racers led by as many as eight before letting Tennessee-Martin fight back to take the late lead. Murray State was able to come back with a run to give them a 40-39 lead at halftime.

There was much back and forth in the third quarter, but Murray State was still able to maintain a 60-58 lead heading into the final quarter. Trailing by one with eight minutes remaining, Murray State looked to be pulling away as they went on a 12-0 run to make it 74-63 with 4:33 left to play.

Tennessee-Martin responded once again with five points in 22 seconds and traded three-pointer with the Racers to make it 77-76 Murray State with less than two minutes to play. Murray State was up two points in the final seconds when Tennessee-Martin elected to take a three to win the game, but could not connect resulting in the huge upset.

The No. 2 seed Belmont also had a tough game on its hands as they defeated the seventh seed Tennessee State, 68-60. Belmont was led by Freshman of the Year Darby Maggard who had 16 points and sophomore Sally McCabe who had 18 points.

The first quarter hurt Tennessee State as they were outscored, 22-10. They trailed for the remainder of the game despite playing Belmont evenly in the second half.

In the second day of first-round action, Eastern Kentucky faced Austin Peay, and SIU Edwardsville took on Southeast Missouri.

Eastern Kentucky was able to overcome a 14-point first-half deficit by outscoring Austin Peay by 25 points in the second half to advance to the next round. Eastern Kentucky was able to tie the game up at 41 in less than five minutes into the second half due to two-straight steals leading to baskets.

They entered the final quarter tied at 52, but the Eastern Kentucky offense clicked while Austin Peay struggled to score. They ended up taking a double-digit lead and not looking back as they advanced to the next round.

The final game of the first round was an overtime thriller between SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri. The No. 3 seed SIUE was able to fight off No. 6 Southeast Missouri with an 80-76 win.

This was a tight game that featured 11 lead changes and 13 ties. Southeast Missouri had a 33-29 lead going into the halftime, but neither team was able to pull away as SIUE was able to get those four points back in the second half. Donshel Beck had a huge game on the board for SIUE with 17 rebounds.

OVC Player of the Year Shronda Butts had a dominant performance in the game with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals for SIUE.

The semifinals will begin on Friday at noon with a matchup between No. 4 Eastern Kentucky and No. 8 Murray State. This game will be followed up with No. 2 Belmont vs. No. 3 SIUE at 2 p.m. The winners of these two games will play each other for a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

 

Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]