Edwardsville, Illinois – Ajul Tasa earned his ninth double-double of the season, but UT Martin took the lead 2 minutes and 7 seconds into the contest, beating the Cougars 83-64 in front of 2,023 fans on Thursday afternoon.

SIUE slips to 6-16 on the season and 5-6 in Ohio Valley Conference Play. UT Martin he improves to 9-12 and 6-5.

‘I think we are at our best when we play fast,’ says head coach Samantha Quigley Smith Said. “It didn’t work out today. But the environment was great and it was a really great experience for our group. Thanks to UT Martin for not allowing us to play as fast as we wanted.”

It was SIUE’s annual day of education, and 13 schools in the surrounding area were represented in the crowd.

“The environment was great,” added Smith. “The kids were really loud. An environment like today is what you’ll see in conference tournaments in the future, hopefully.”

The Cougars scored the first four points of the contest before the Skyhawks took the lead with a 9-0 run. UT Martin maintained his momentum in the first quarter, beating the Cougars 23-14.

At halftime, UT Martin entered the locker room and shot 41% (14-35) and 50% (7-14) from behind the arc. He shot 38% (11-29) for SIUE and only 25% (2-8) from distance. UT Martin took advantage of the Cougar turnovers, from 14 turnovers he scored 16 points and at the break he took a 42-31 lead. The Cougars finished the contest with his 26 turnovers.

“We have to focus,” Smith said. “We have to be strong and smart in basketball. I think if we play fast and try to get the ball out faster, we can take some of the pressure off defense with every catch.”

The Skyhawks kept their momentum going after halftime, beating SIUE 27-21 in the third quarter with a 17-point advantage in the fourth quarter.

UT Martin had the biggest lead of the contest with 25 points midway through the final quarter. However, the Cougars ended the contest on his 6-0 run with the final score he was 83-64.

“We shifted our focus to getting the ball inside,” added Smith. “You have to get the defenders out of the dribble and find opportunities to score on the inside. not.”

Ajul Tasa He led the Cougars with 19 and 14 in points and rebounds. She has scored in her double figures in five of her last six games. She also led the Cougars with 3 assists and 2 blocks.

“She was incredibly focused,” Smith said. “Other players will need to step up with her to be successful defensively and offensively, but we are going to find it.”

Sophie Rowis He also scored in double figures and scored 15 points. She also led her SIUE with her three steals.

Nya Danfort returned to the floor for the first time since Purdue on November 17th. She finished the game with 6 points and 5 rebounds.

“It’s great to have Niya back on the court,” Smith said. “She had an injury that made her say, ‘This year is over,’ but she really had her mind set on coming back. She was able to be here. It’s great. Her. was able to get back into the groove of playing 5-on-5, and I’m really happy for her.”

UT Martin had five players with double-digit scores, led by Shae Littleford’s 20. Josie Storey added his 17 points and Sharnecce Currie-Jelks contributed his 13 points.

SIUE is out for Saturday’s meeting with Little Rock.Tip-off is scheduled for 1pm

“We have to focus on ourselves,” Smith said. “Little Rock has done a great job defensively this season. It will be difficult to score on Saturday, but he has to defend.”

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