Herd women top UTEP, 63-60
EL PASO, Texas — All along, Marshall head coach Tony Kemper has said that senior leadership and solid defense is what leads teams to success on the road in conference play.
As it turned out, Marshall got both on Thursday night.
Marshall’s defense limited UTEP to just 31 points over the final three quarters, including just 15 in the second half, as the Herd earned a 63-60 win over the Miners at the Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday.
The play of the team’s three seniors — Shayna Gore, Khadaijia Brooks and Taylor Porter — helped fuel the Herd to their third consecutive Conference USA road victory.
Gore finished with 17 points, Brooks added a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds and Porter netted 12 points to fuel the win, which makes Marshall 12-9 overall and 6-2 in Conference USA.
Marshall led 61-56 after a pair of Gore free throws, but UTEP battled back to within one point and had possession late with a chance to take the lead. The Herd forced a tough shot and Brooks secured her 11th rebound before knocking down two free throws to push the lead to three and force UTEP to look for an outside shot.
That desperation shot was off the mark as the Herd survived on the road in the first of two games in Texas.
Brooks spearheaded an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter that gave the Herd its first lead since the middle of the first quarter. She scored five straight points before assisting on Porter’s 3-pointer that pushed the advantage to 57-50 before UTEP mounted a comeback.
It was a stark contrast to the first half when Marshall trailed by double-figures at the break as Zuzanna Puc led the Miners to a 45-34 halftime advantage. The Herd trailed by as many as 14 points.
However, Marshall crept back into the game in the third quarter, cracking down defensively and limiting the Miners to a 1-of-15 shooting performance to reduce the lead to one point at 50-49 heading into the final period.
UTEP jumped out quickly as Puc scored 19 points in the first half and the Miners, who were last in Conference USA in scoring coming into the game, found their mark early to take the lead.
The Miners hit seven of 14 3-point attempts in the first half en route to their highest-scoring first half of the season.
Much of that damage came in the first quarter when UTEP (4-17, 1-7 C-USA) scored 29 points with Puc accounting for 14 of her 19 first-half points in the first period.
Puc finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds in the loss for the Miners.
Kristen Mayo also put in a solid performance for the Herd with seven points and eight rebounds in the win.
Marshall returns to action on Saturday when the team travels to UTSA for a 3 p.m. matchup with the Roadrunners.