Herd women fall in opener

November 9, 2018

Marshall's Khadaijia Brooks (22) puts up a shot against Indiana State defender Kierra Isaiah (24) during a women's basketball game on Wednesday at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — It was supposed to be an exciting night for Marshall’s women’s basketball team.

The Herd returned two experienced players to its lineup and was looking to get the season off on the right foot.

Instead, the Thundering Herd women kept tripping over those feet, turning the ball over 22 times and shooting just 28 percent from the floor in a 62-53 loss to Indiana State on Wednesday night at the Cam Henderson Center.

“We all have to be better,” head coach Tony Kemper said. “It’s disappointing to start the year like that.”

In the end, it came down to play in the fourth quarter.

Marshall dug out of a 13-point third-quarter hole to cut Indiana State’s lead to 52-49 after Taylor Porter buried a 3-pointer from the corner after with 7:40 left. The shot came after Kemper recognized an extended 2-3 look from Indiana State’s defense and opted into the play, which resulted in an open look for Porter, who was in her first game since the 2016-17 season.

From that point, however, the Herd got antsy, speeding up their own play, which resulted in rushed shots and turnovers as they had one field goal the rest of the game. By the time Khadaijia Brooks connected on an elbow jumper with 1:59 left, Indiana State had increased its lead back to double figures.

Marshall (0-1) whittled the lead down to six after a pair of free throws from Shayna Gore, but again, turnovers loomed large as the Herd had chances to cut the lead. The Herd finished with 22 turnovers in the loss.

“We have to be much better in the fourth quarter executing and making decisions about the shot that we take, the pass we make and how strong we are with the ball because we were not,” Kemper said. “Down three at home, we get four straight stops and don’t get a shot or if we got a shot, it was a shot we couldn’t make.”

Brooks finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in her first game since 2016-17, as well, but was limited to just four points in the second half. Gore had 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.

While the fourth quarter was an issue, the difference in the game came right out of the halftime locker room.

Marshall led 30-25 at the break, but Indiana State used a 12-0 run to start the second half to seize control. The difference was that the Sycamores were the aggressor and that the Herd struggled while playing with the lead.

“When we have the lead, we need to learn to keep it,” Gore said. “I think we need to keep doing the things in the first half that got us the lead and carry it over in the second half. I don’t know what happened in the third quarter. We stopped playing defense, we stopped rebounding, we stopped doing what it took to get the lead.”

Much of the difference in the second half came from the Sycamores having Ashli O’Neal, their talented point guard, back on the court running their offense.

O’Neal picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game and went to the bench for the rest of the first half as Marshall built a 30-25 lead at the break.

With O’Neal back out on the floor, the Sycamores were more aggressive, attacking holes in the Marshall zone and crashing the paint to work the offense inside-out.

After scoring just 25 points in the first two quarters combined, the Sycamores scored 27 in the third quarter alone, starting the period on a 20-3 run that turned a five-point deficit into a 12-point advantage.

Regan Wentland and Alexis Delgado each had 13 points for the Sycamores and Wentland had a game-high 13 rebounds as well. O’Neal finished with 11 points in the win for Indiana State.

Marshall started the game hot from the floor, hitting seven of 12 shots in the first quarter to forge an 18-14 lead. However, the Herd hit just 10 of 47 shots the rest of the way, struggling to get any rhythm or flow to the offense.

The Herd looks to regroup this week before hitting the road for a Tuesday contest at Bowling Green. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

“We all have to be better. It’s disappointing to start the year like that.”

Tony Kemper

Marshall head coach

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