Brianna Crane scored a career-high 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor but it was not enough Saturday night as a shooting barrage from UT Martin carried the Skyhawks to a 97-80 victory at the CFSB Center.

UTM (6-10, 2-2 OVC) shot 53 percent from the floor and hit 13 3-pointers while the Racers (5-10, 1-3 OVC) shot 48.3 percent and made seven from beyond the arc. MSU was strong at the free-throw line in the loss, going 17-of-19 (89.5 percent) at the stripe.

The Racers were also strong on the glass in the contest as both teams recorded 32 rebounds and nine second-chance points. MSU also outscored the Skyhawks in the paint, 34-32 and had an 8-4 margin in fast break points. UT Martin’s full court press proved to be a big difference on the night as the Racers were forced into 19 turnovers and allowed 33 points off those miscues.

The first quarter was a wild one as UTM scored the first 15 points of the game before a 15-2 run by the Racers cut the deficit to 17-15 and MSU trailed by just two, 20-18 after the first period.

The final four minutes of the second period however, proved fatal for MSU as the Skyhawks closed the first half on a 16-6 run and led 46-36 at the break. In the second half, UTM was able to push its lead up to as many as 20 early in the fourth quarter.

Ke’Shunan James had a solid all-around night as she scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and added seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Bria Bethea was also in double figures in the loss as she tallied 13.

Saturday’s loss closes MSU’s four-game home stand to open conference play and the Racers will next go on the road for four consecutive contests, beginning Thursday at Jacksonville State.

Kevin DeVries

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