Herd women fall in 2OT
FRISCO, Texas — Shooting 23.9 percent from the floor is no way to win a basketball game.
That was the Marshall University women’s team’s accuracy mark Wednesday in the Conference USA Tournament first round. UTEP didn’t make a lot more at only 42.4 percent, but the 11th-seeded Miners overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter and eliminated the sixth-seeded Thundering Herd, 64-56, in the event’s first double-overtime contest since 2006.
Marshall senior Taylor Porter drew a foul on a drive into the lane and sank two free throws with 1.7 seconds left that tied the teams, 46-46, and forced overtime. UTEP junior guard Ariona Gill made a spin move into the lane and banked in a shot at the buzzer to create a second extra period at 52-52.
UTEP (9-21) scored the final six points while Marshall was missing five straight 3-point field attempts.
“Credit to UTEP,” Marshall head coach Tony Kemper said. “They made some big shots when they needed to. We made some big shots too. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Miners advanced to face third-seeded Middle Tennessee (20-9) in a 3 p.m. Thursday quarterfinal game.
Marshall is a smallish team, one of the smallest in the nation according to Kemper, with its tallest starting player, junior forward Khadaijia Brooks, standing 5-foot-10. UTEP used its size to advantage and outscored Marshall (16-14) on points in the paint, 34-12, and had a 17-rebound advantage.
Jordan Alexander, a 5-11 senior, led UTEP with 16 points and eight rebounds. Gill (6-foot) added 14 points with seven rebounds. Katarina Zec, a 5-11 junior, scored 12 and also grabbed seven rebounds.
“Coach (Kevin Baker) was like ‘Get the ball inside, get the ball inside.’ They were under sized and that’s what we did.”
Herd senior guard Shayna Gore poured in 25 points.
Guard Taylor Pearson scored 11 and the 5-7 sophomore collected 12 rebounds. Porter joined them in double figures with 10 points.
“They knew where they had the advantage,” Kemper said. “When you look at what they have inside we knew where they were going to go.”
Gore netted seven first-quarter points in a sluggish start for both teams and Marshall edged ahead, 10-7. The Herd misfired on its first nine shots and the Miners committed six of their 19 turnovers in the opening period. Marshall held the lead at halftime, 20-16.
Junior forward Princess Clemons, a 5-11 junior, came from off the Herd bench with a drive to the basket that created a 31-21 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter. Alexander of the Miners shook free from Porter on a screen and nailed a jump shot that gave UTEP its first lead of the game, 43-42, at 2:02 of the fourth quarter.
Gore led the Herd in the first five-minute overtime period, driving and dishing to Pearson for a layup then making two free throws for a 52-50 lead, but Gill answered with a bucket at the end.
Marshall began the second OT with a turnover and two misses. Zec’s 3-pointer put UTEP in the lead and the Miners held on.
“It just wasn’t our day,” Gore said. “It was UTEP’s night, I guess.”
The Herd’s bad shooting percentage was on a 17-for-71 overall performance and 7-for-39 for 3-point attempts.
Kemper said the league’s leading team in making 3-point shots wasn’t good enough at who it is.
Marshall’s first-round matchup with Rice in the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament ended later than press time on Wednesday night, and therefore, was not in Thursday’s print edition. For full game coverage from Wednesday’s contest, please visit http://www.herald-dispatch.com.