Late heroics lift Herd women past Charlotte
HUNTINGTON — On the whiteboard where Marshall University women’s basketball senior guard Shayna Gore lives there are no notes about laundry or telling her about other things to do.
There is only one sentence, and it fuels her each day.
“Its not even got my homework ” Gore said. “It has nothing on it, but it says, ’Marshall was ranked 13th in the (Conference USA) preseason poll/I look at it every time I go out the door to remind me of what I am playing for and what we are playing for.”
That fuel drove Marshall (8-7, 2-0 C-USA) in the first weekend of C-USA play. Gore had 18 points and Kristen Mayo scored with 3.1 seconds left to give the Thundering Herd a 63-62 win over Charlotte on Saturday in front of 738 spectators in Cam Henderson Center.
The win was Marshall’s first in 11 tries against Charlotte and gave the Herd a weekend sweep in conference action after wins over Old Dominion and Charlotte.
For a team that had won just six of its last 32 C-USA games coming into the weekend, the two complete efforts that came down to finishing games in the fourth quarter was a sign of growth for Marshall head coach Tony Kemper.
“In the fourth quarter, we just buckled down,” Kemper said. “We were much more solid and fought together, (had) some really big shots from a lot of different people.”
There was no bigger shot than the layup from Mayo with 3.1 seconds that proved to be the winner.
Charlotte (8-6, 0-2 C-USA) had a foul to give and the expectation was the 49ers would use it on a Marshall in-bounds play. However, Mayo took a pass near the corner and drove the baseline, getting a defender on her hip and finishing strong through contact to give the Herd the lead.
The 49ers got a last-second opportunity to win, but a 3-pointer by Laia Raventos was long, sending the Herd into celebration of its first weekend sweep in conference play since the start of the 2016-17 season.
Mayo’s shot was the final of several critical plays in a wild final 30 seconds for both teams.
Raventos had given the 49ers a lead with 25 seconds left when she hit a step-back runner to put Charlotte up 60-58. However, that lead was short-lived as Gore bodied through a hedge attempt by Raventos, spun and hit a 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left to put the Herd up one.
After a timeout, Charlotte took a one-point lead when Jade Phillips slipped to the basket and scored off a feed from Raventos to put the 49ers up one prior to Mayo’s game-winning drive.
It was only the second shot in the game Mayo connected on, but both featured a high degree of difficulty and were vital to the win.
Charlotte went on a 9-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a 56-51 lead following a 3-pointer by Octavia Jett-Wil-son with 5:18 left.
On the subsequent possession, Marshall’s offense was a bit out of sorts, and Mayo recovered a loose ball in the corner as time wound down on the shot clock. Her fadeaway, desperation 3-pointer hit nothing but net to help the Herd get back in sequence.
“We drew it up, I promise,” Gore said, tongue-in-cheek.
While Gore’s 18 points and Khadaijia Brooks’ 11 points led the way for the Herd, it was bench contributions that loomed largest in the win.
Marshall got eight points and eight rebounds from freshman guard Kia Sivils and the bench contributed 14 points and 17 rebounds, compared to just four points and eight rebounds for the 49ers.
The Herd has a smaller lineup with center Ashley Saintigene out for the foreseeable future, but Marshall’s team effort on the glass limited Charlotte to just eight offensive rebounds that produced only two second-chance points.
Charlotte led by eight on the strength of five 3-pointers in the first quarter, but Marshall used a 10-0 run between the first and second periods to take its first lead.
From there, the teams stayed locked in a one-possession affair for all but 30 seconds over the next two quarters. The game was tied 31-31 at halftime and 45-45 after three quarters.
Raventos led four players in double figures for Charlotte with 19 points and also had seven assists. Jade Phillips scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half while Mariah Linney added 13 and Jett-Wilson added 11.
Marshall gets a few days off before its biggest test of the season — a 3 p.m. Saturday road contest at Western Kentucky.