Martin, Tenn. --- The Tennessee State University women's basketball team saw the game slip away in the final moments in a 60-51 loss to UT Martin Saturday night in Skyhawk Arena.
Tennessee State dropped its second straight and slipped to 8-14 (5-8 OVC) while UT Martin won its third consecutive and moved to 7-15 (5-7 OVC).
Meredith Stafford, the only player to post double-digits, led TSU with 20 points and nine rebounds.
The Skyhawks were led in scoring by LaBrica Ward who posted 25 points and 12 rebounds. Alecia Weatherly added 21 points and Darnisha Lyles pulled down 16 rebounds.
In the opening half, Tennessee State missed its first six shot attempts and went for four minutes without scoring. In the meantime, UT Martin couldn't miss and jumped out to a 12-0 lead. Meredith Stafford finally got TSU on the board after nailing a three-pointer at the 15:59 mark.
UT Martin stretched its advantage to 16-6 but another triple by Meredith Stafford sparked an 8-0 run that brought TSU to within two, 16-14. A LaBrica Ward 3-pointer ended nearly an eight point scoring drought for the Skyhawks and made the score 19-14. The Lady Tigers, however, answered with a 6-1 run to knot the game 20-20.
UTM led 26-24 at halftime.
TSU tied the game, 28-28, early in the second half but UTM reclaimed the lead and maintained it for the next eight minutes. With the Lady Tigers trailing, 38-37, Kesi Hess nailed a three-pointer to give TSU its first lead of the game.
Six unanswered points from the Skyhawks made the score 49-all with 2:31 left to play. Alecia Weatherly put UTM back on top 51-49 before a crucial TSU turnover and a three-pointer by Cali Cupples led to the Skyhawks capturing a 54-49 advantage with 37 seconds remaining.
UT Martin knocked down free-throws the rest of the way to secure the win.
Tennessee State only had eight turnovers compared to UT Martin's 14 but the Lady Tigers lost the battle of the boards 42-36. TSU shot 30.2 percent from the field and 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from the free-throw line. UTM shot 37.5 percent from the field and 69.7 percent (23-of-33) from the charity stripe.
Tennessee State will have a week off before returning to action at home against Austin Peay on Saturday, Feb. 13. Game time is slated for 5:30 p.m. in the Gentry Center.