Marshall women top Evansville in OT, 72-65
HUNTINGTON - Things didn’t always go the way of Marshall University’s women’s basketball team Thursday night.
But, head coach Tony Kemper said one thing was consistent. The Thundering Herd played with grit and attitude, he said. which led to a 72-65 overtime victory against The University of Evansville in front of a Cam Henderson Center turnout of 638 spectators.
Khadaijia Brooks led that mentality on the floor with 19 points and 13 rebounds, both team highs for Marshall (2-4).
“I just feel like we wanted a new start,” Brooks said. “We wanted to take care of this win, not just for ourselves but for the fan base we have created throughout the years. Basically, I feel like we’ve put in the hard work to get where we’re at.”
“I’ve been harping on them,” Kemper said. “That’s what we need - a little bit of attitude. Attitude (that) we’re not going to lose.”
Kemper said it was good to see the tenacity stay consistent throughout the contest. Marshall still did not shoot the ball well, hitting just 23 of 73 shots, but the Herd trumped that with its work on the backboards.
Coming into Thursday’s game, Marshall had been out-rebounded by nearly six rebounds per game. On Thursday, however, Marshall won the rebounding battle in convincing fashion, 63-37.
Of those 63 rebounds, 26 were on the offensive end with none being bigger than the first rebound of overtime.
Marshall’s Shayna Gore had a shot roll around and hang on the rim before falling to the side, but Taylor Pearson hustled in for an offensive rebound that led to a 3-point play.
Gore finished with 18 points while Pearson joined Brooks in the double-double department, notching her first with the Herd in a 10-point, 12-rebound effort.
Kristen Mayo closed the game out down the stretch with six straight free throws in the final 35 seconds of overtime.
Marshall built momentum down the stretch in the fourth quarter after Evansville reeled off a 15-2 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a six-point lead.
At that point, Pearson said Brooks took the game over and showed the attitude Kemper wanted.
“When coach was talking (with) under three minutes left in the game, Khadaijia looked at us and said, ‘We’re not losing this game,’” Pearson said. “Everybody just got on the same page and it just carried the momentum. That’s how we got it done.”
The fourth quarter showed the emergence of Ashley Saintigene, who is working her way back into the rotation after tearing her ACL last season. Saintigene had a pair of crucial baskets late to cut into Evansville’s lead before producing a game-saving block on the final possession of regulation that sent the game to the extra session.
Marshall ended the first half on a surge with Gore hitting consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Herd within 29-28.
The Herd then parlayed that momentum into a strong start to the second half, a 9-0 run, propelled by a pair of free throws by Brooks to take its first lead since early in the first quarter.
That lead extended to double figures as Marshall kept Evansville (1-4) without a field goal for more than five minutes in the quarter before the Purple Aces battled back to open the fourth period.
“From about two minutes (in the first half) and then the first three or four coming out of the half, that was a big run for us,” Kemper said.
Marley Miller, an Evansville guard who entered the game 0-for-9 shooting 3-point attempts, connected on six of eight and scored 20 to lead the Aces. Kerri Gasper added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Marshall returns to action on Saturday when the Herd hosts Coppin State at 1 p.m. at Cam Henderson Center.