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MU women give up late lead, lose 76-69 to Towson

December 23, 2018
Sholten Singer/The Herald-DispatchMarshall University's Cam Henderson Center in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON - On Saturday, Marshall University’s women’s basketball team couldn’t tame the Tigers.

Marshall squandered a double-digit halftime lead and then saw another lead collapse late as Towson University earned a 76-69 win over the Thundering Herd in front of 848 spectators at Cam Henderson Center.

“We had built a nice lead and gave it all back in a hurry,” Marshall head coach Tony Kemper said. “It’s disappointing that they outfought us on our own floor. Still, a lot of credit goes to them on doing what they needed to do to win.”

Marshall (5-7) led by five with 3:09 left following a 3-pointer by Shayna Gore, but the Herd did not have another field goal until Taylor Porter hit a jumper with six seconds remaining.

During that span, Towson (6-5) took control of the game. At one point, the Tigers scored 13 straight points to turn a deficit into an eight-point cushion before Porter’s jumper.

The key possession came with just over one minute left and Marshall clinging to a one-point advantage.

After a review of a deflection, Towson got possession and used a well-run set to take the lead on a 3-pointer by Qierra Murray.

While it only gave the Tigers a two-point lead, the play seemed like a game-winner as Marshall struggled to regain its composure with turnovers and ill-advised shots on its ensuing possessions.

Kemper said that it is the mind-set of his team following those plays - not the actual play itself - that is hurting the Herd in the stretch of games. He added that a similar circumstance occurred in Marshall’s road loss at Clemson on Tuesday.

“They (Towson) made a 3 and it opened the floodgates,” Kemper said. “I mean, we went down 67-65 or 69-67 and then it was 7-0 after that. That part - the toughness and the fight that it takes down the stretch - we’d better pick that up pretty quick. Basketball is not an easy game to win down the stretch.”

Marshall had seven turnovers in the final quarter and finished with 17 with many coming on account of Towson’s active defense, which got deflections and made it hard for the Herd to get into its offensive sets.

Porter led the Herd with 15 points, but it was of little solace following the loss. Instead, the senior guard’s focus was to the point about moving forward as Marshall has one more game before play in Conference USA starts.

“It’s a good learning lesson,” Porter said. “That’s how conference is going to be, period. That’s how everyone is going to play us. We’ve got to get over it, work through it in practice and understand it. Nobody is going to slack off. We can’t play cool, like coach said. We’ve got to play tough - for 40 minutes.”

For one half, Marshall was able to show the toughness Kemper and Porter spoke of.

Marshall’s lead grew to 14 after Porter found Ashley Saintigene for a layup to start the second half.

From there, however, the third quarter belonged to Towson as the Tigers used the play of Kionna Jeter to ignite a rally. Jeter had seven points during a 17-3 run, including two free throws that gave the Tigers their first lead since late in the first quarter.

The teams went to the fourth quarter tied before a 7-0 Marshall run, highlighted by a layup from Saintigene, gave the Herd a 62-56 lead with 5:28 left.

Towson used its size and athleticism to get to the foul line consistently in the final period to aid in the comeback. After going to the line only eight times in the first three quarters, the Tigers went 11 of 18 from the foul line in the final period.

The catalyst for that was Murray, who hit all six of her free throw attempts in the fourth and finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Tigers to the comeback win. Jeter added 18 points and nine rebounds.

Kemper said the performance was disappointing - especially the second half when the Herd squandered momentum built from a late second-quarter run that had produced a 12-point halftime advantage.

“I have no answer for what happened out of the locker room,” Kemper said. “I thought we were disorganized, I thought we looked disinterested and I have no answer for that. We didn’t make any big adjustments, as far as what to do. We just did not look focused at all.”

The Herd defense limited Towson to only one field goal over the final 6:10 of the first half while using turnovers and defensive rebounds to get out into transition during a 14-2 run that gave Marshall its 39-27 advantage.

After Towson tied the game 25-25, Porter hit Lorelei Roper in transition for a layup that ignited the run and later got a steal and three-point play to increase the lead to 10 before Khadaijia Brooks hit a jumper that set the halftime score.

In addition to Porter, Gore finished with 13 points for the Herd, but struggled to a 4-of-16 shooting performance.

Nukiya Mayo added 16 points and seven rebounds for Towson to complement Murray and Jeter, while center Janeen Camp added eight points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.

Marshall returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, when the Herd hosts Delaware State in the final non-conference game.

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