Star Staff Reports
NASHVILLE — The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team is going dancing again. The Skyhawks earned the Ohio Valley Conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament Saturday with a 87-80 overtime victory over Tennessee Tech in the league championship at Municipal Auditorium.
The win was the third straight OVC Tournament championship for UT Martin (19-14) under Head Coach Kevin McMillan. The Skyhawks will find out their opponent and location in the NCAA Tournament Sunday.
Junior guard and Millington Central High School graduate Jasmine Newsome poured in 34 points – including a game-tying layup with two seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime – on her way to OVC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Newsome also registered seven assists and four steals in 45 minutes.
Heather Butler scored 24 points, while Rickiesha Bryant notched yet another double-double with 20 points (on 8-for-8 shooting) and 12 rebounds. Both Butler and Bryant joined Newsome on the All-OVC Tournament team. Tennessee Tech (19-12) was led by 19 points out of Jala Harris. Lashay Davis (15 points), Diamond Henderson (14), Molly Heady (12) and Kylie Cook (11) also cracked double-figures in the scoring column for the Golden Eagles.
In the first game of the tournament, Newsome set a OVC Tournament record with 41 points sparking a three-game winning streak for the Lady Skyhawks.
The seven-game overall win streak and third straight OVC Tournament championship was just part of a big week for Newsome. She was named the 2012-13 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in voting by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Newsome became the first player in league history to earn both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honor in the same season. The top honor was Newsome’s second-straight Player of the Year honor and her second overall Defensive Player of the Year award after winning it in 2010-11. The first team All-OVC selection leads the league and ranks seventh in the nation with 21.9 points per game while putting up a conference-best 24.3 points each time out in OVC play. Newsome ended the regular season in the Conference with 3.13 steals per outing and 94 total swipes which also ranks 18th in the nation. She was second in the conference with 5.6 assists each time out so far this season. Newsome reached double-digits in scoring in all but one game and hit the 30-plus point mark three times this season, including back-to-back 31-point efforts versus Tennessee State and Murray State. The junior guard was second among OVC active players in career points (1,845), steals (231) and assists (491). Newsome was named the OVC Player of the Week seven times this year, including three straight to close-out the regular-season. She was the second different Skyhawk to earn Player of the Year honors.
Newsome’s outburst at the 2013 OVC Tournament set two records. She now has the most points in a game with 41 points. And her three-day output of 98 points was also a record.