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Area duo helping Martin continue dominance in OVC

Star Staff Reports

The UT Martin sophomore duo of Tiara Caldwell and Ashia Jones trap a Jacksonville State player during Saturday night's game at Martin. The duo combined for 44 points in the 67-47 victory over the Gamecocks. Caldwell and Jones were area standouts at Millington and Covington respectively.

The UT Martin sophomore duo of Tiara Caldwell and Ashia Jones trap a Jacksonville State player during Saturday night’s game at Martin. The duo combined for 44 points in the 67-47 victory over the Gamecocks. Caldwell and Jones were area standouts at Millington and Covington respectively.

MARTIN — The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team defeated Ohio Valley Conference foe Jacksonville State behind a heavy dose of post play from sophomore Ashia Jones as she tossed in 30 points and 12 rebounds in the 67-47 victory Saturday night.
The Skyhawks (9-9, 5-0 OVC) moved to .500 for the first time this season while pushing their unbeaten streak to five games to start out conference play. Jones, for Covington Charger and Brighton Cardinal, continues to dominate the OVC, notching her third 30-point outing in the past four games while pulling down 12 rebounds for her eighth career double-double.
The home squad would make the most of Jones’ contributions while the duo of Tiara Caldwell (Millington Central product) and Monique Jackson combined to score 50 of the team’s 67 total points. Caldwell notched a new career high with 14 points while notching six rebounds as Jackson chipped in six points and nine boards.
Jacksonville State (12-6, 3-3 OVC) shot just 32.8 percent for the game while Destany McLin led the squad with 12 points and eight rebounds. Seven of the nine players contributed points for the Gamecocks but it would not be enough to outmatch the 53.3 percent field goal percentage by the Skyhawks in the second half.
“I thought the first half was a little bit of a slugfest as both teams were trying to feel each other out,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “I challenged our three posts at the half that we needed to dominate the second half. I thought we were able to come out and do that. Our posts finished out with a very good second half and that was the difference in the ballgame.
The Gamecocks would jump out to a 4-0 lead out of the gates before the Skyhawks finally took their first lead of the game at the 15:48 mark off a jumper from Jones. McLin would storm out of the gates with eight points in the first five minutes, giving the Gamecocks a 10-9 advantage at the first media break. JSU would put together a 6-0 run over the course of 40 seconds behind the hot shooting of Gretchen Morrison who came off the bench and hit back-to-back three-pointers on consecutive possessions.
The Skyhawks would respond with a 9-2 run of their own to retake the lead at 20-18 with 7:43 to play in the first half. Much of the success of the Skyhawks came from the low post presence of Jones and Caldwell who combined to score nine points – including seven consecutive points by Caldwell during the span.
The next four minutes would see both the lead change hands and the score be tied on a pair of occasions. Jones and Ward would both score for the home squad while Candace Morton and Destiny James notched two points each.
UT Martin would take a 28-25 advantage into the halftime break behind the play of Jones who notched 16 first half points. For the Gamecocks it was McLin who tallied a team-best 10 points in the opening frame. As a whole, the lead changed hands on seven occasions while the score would be tied three times.
The Skyhawks would open the second half by outscoring the Gamecocks 10-4, including a 6-0 run. Included in the run was six points from Jones, reaching the 20-point plateau for the seventh time in the last nine games.
UT Martin would stretch the run eventually to as large as 16-0, holding Jacksonville State scoreless for over seven minutes. Jones would chip in another six points along with a couple of rebounds to give the sophomore her eighth career double-double. Both teams would play pretty evenly following the run with Jacksonville State holding a slim advantage during the four minute period, outscoring UT Martin 8-7. Briana Benson would tally six of JSU’s eight points during the span while the collection of Katie Schubert, Jessy Ward and Jackson each produced for the Skyhawks.
The game would stay balanced over the next segment with JSU once again outscoring the Skyhawks 8-7 during the stretch. Four players would contribute for the Gamecocks while Caldwell tallied five points during the stretch to reach double figures and set a new personal best.
The Skyhawks would stretch the lead back out down the stretch, eventually picking up the 67-47 victory and keeping their unbeaten OVC record alive. UT Martin will return to action on Jan. 21 when the Skyhawks host Eastern Illinois at 6:30 p.m.

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