(WITH VIDEO) – Three-point shots were the dominant theme right off the bat as the UT Martin Skyhawks took an early 5-0 lead over the Racers Saturday night at the CFSB Center. Short shots and easy layups struggled to fall in as the Skyhawks, who lead the OVC in 3-point shooting remained cool and collected from outside the arc.
The Racers found their groove just under six minutes into the game when sophomore point guard Cameron Payne sunk a 3-pointer, taking the lead 12-11 and joining the Murray State 1,000 point club. Payne is the second-fastest player to score 1,000 career points for the Racers.
The Skyhawks took the lead once more with an immediate jump-shot, but the Racers returned three minutes later and never lost their lead during the half. They entered the locker room at halftime bettering UT Martin 36-25.
The Skyhawks came out with a vengeance in the second half, going on a 10-2 run before the Racers’ junior forward Tyler Rambo got things rolling with a layup.
UT Martin didn’t let up as they cut the lead to a single possession with 11 minutes left to play. Payne’s frustration was evident in his communication as shots failed to fall. UT Martin’s head coach Heath Schroyer screamed “rebounds” and “make the stop” as the Racers regained a five-point lead off a layup by junior forward Wayne Langston.
The Skyhawks tied the game at 52 when senior guard Deville Smith sunk a free throw. Senior guard T.J. Sapp put the Racers ahead with a shooter. UT Martin’s redshirt senior guard Marshun Newell made a 3-pointer to take the lead once again before Payne laid a short shot up and put the Racers up 56-55 with four and a half minutes to play.
The lead changed two more times within a minute before both teams took to their benches for the final media timeout. Both teams reentered the court with attitude as the fans jeered disapproval of fouls.
UT Martin’s Smith tied the game at 58 with a free throw but was unable to make the go-ahead shot. Players on both teams debated with the officials as the tension rose in the CFSB Center. Sapp laid up a shot to take the lead before Smith did the same downcourt.
A missed shot by Payne was rebounded by a UT Martin player who soon stepped out-of-bounds. Sapp made a long 3-pointer to put the Racers ahead with just 51.8 seconds to play.
Smith didn’t stop as he laid up a shot to cut the score to one. A loose ball was recovered by the Skyhawks who took it downcourt. They stalled before Payne blocked a shot attempt by Smith.
UT Martin’s junior forward Twymond Howard fouled with four seconds left to play and the Racers took to the free throw line leading by one. Junior forward Jeffery Moss made both free throws, sealing the deal for the Racers as they extended their win streak to 17.
Story by Mallory Tucker