RedHawks Claim First Ever Conference Title
The Martin Methodist Women’s Basketball team claimed its first-ever conference championship with a 53-47 victory over No. 23 Bethel (Tenn.) University Saturday afternoon at Crisp Arena.
The RedHawks (24-6, 14-2 SSAC) trailed early in the first quarter, but seized control of the contest late in the period and never trailed again in the contest. Ahead 26-21 at the break, the RedHawks outscored the Lady Wildcats (19-9, 11-4) by nine points in the quarter and led by as many as 17 points midway through the period.
The Lady Wildcats, who sported a 42-1 record at home in SSAC play prior to Saturday’s contest, clawed their way back into the contest in the fourth quarter, however.
Down 10 with just 43 seconds to play, the Lady Wildcats rattled off six-straight points over the next 20-plus seconds to cut the RedHawk lead to just four.
But the RedHawks used sharp ballhandling and clutch free-throw shots to seal the victory in the closing seconds.
The win secured the first-ever conference title for the women’s basketball program in the Martin Methodist NAIA era — regular-season or tournament.
“I am just so happy for these ladies, this team and our school,” RedHawks head coach Kyle Bent said. “To go on the road and beat a team like Bethel is extremely difficult. To do it with a conference title on the line is massive. This was a terrific team effort tonight. I’m proud as heck for these kids and the work they have put in. We will enjoy this one for a day or two and get ready to make a run down at the conference tournament.”
Senior Jemia Carpenter led the RedHawks with a season-high 22 points. The forward also tracked down 13 rebounds in the victory. Sophomore guard Brooklyn Blanchard scored 14 points to flank Carpenter in the scoring column. Freshman guard Erin Freeman added eight points, highlighted by a 3-pointer with 1:52 left in the game to keep the RedHawk lead intact.
In addition to the win, the RedHawks earned the No. 1 seed in this week’s conference tournament, which was set to begin tomorrow (Tuesday).
The RedHawks will meet either No. 8 seed Middle Georgia State or No. 9 seed Brewton-Parker (Ga.) in the quarterfinals. Tipoff in Wednesday’s matchup is set for 4:30 p.m.
All games will be played at the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.