MARTIN — For the first time in program history, the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball received votes in the final USA TODAY Sports Top 25 Coaches’ Poll. The Skyhawks ranked just outside of the Top 25 after garnering six votes in the season’s final poll.
The Skyhawks won their second outright Ohio Valley Conference championship, fourth consecutive OVC Tournament and fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth this season. Along with postseason accomplishments, the squad won a program record 24 games while setting a new single season scoring record with 2,681 total points.
UT-Martin was led by the play of two premier senior guards Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome. Butler, a native of Medina, Tenn., ranks as UT-Martin and the Ohio Valley Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 2,865 career points after being named the league’s Player of the Year. Butler ranks tied for 16thon the NCAA’s all-time scoring list while she scored in double figures every game of her career, spanning 129 games and ranking fifth all-time. She leaves UT-Martin as the best three-point shooter in NCAA history with a record-tying 392 career made three-pointers, including a pair of NCAA three-point records set as a junior.
A Millington Central High School product, Newsome was named OVC Player of the Year twice, OVC Defensive Player of the Year three times en route to ranking second on UT-Martin and the league’s all-time scoring list with 2,566 career points. She also is the UT-Martin record holder for single season free throws made (167), career free throws made (617), single season points (770), single season assists (193) and career assists (687). College Sports Madness named her All-Mid Major Player of the Year and Mid Major All-American.
The Skyhawks wrapped up the season after falling to No. 7 North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 60-58, despite leading for the majority of the game. The Skyhawks changed their game plan which ranked third in the nation in scoring going into the contest to a patient half-court offense and defensive pressure. The scheme change would hold the Tar Heels, a team which averaged 80.7 points per game going into the tournament, to just 60 points.
The USA TODAY Sports Board of Coaches is made up of 32 head coaches at Division I institutions. All are members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Ranking atop the poll was national champion and undefeated Connecticut (40-0) while Final Four participants Notre Dame (37-1), Stanford (33-4) and Maryland (28-7) rounded out the top four, respectively.