MU Women's Basketball Gets "Ugly" Win

It is often said in sports that an ugly win beats playing a great game and losing. The Marshall women's basketball team took that concept to a new level last night against an AAU team known as the Ohio Girls Basketball Magazine Legends. Despite shooting just under 30 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the charity stripe, the Herd dominated on the glass and played full-court defense all game to pull out a 53-44 win in the last exhibition before the season starts a week from Friday.

Marshall was as successful off the court as on last night, as the season ticket promotion for women's basketball worked beyond anyone's wildest dream. 670 season tickets were added to about 150 or so tickets sold before the promotion to give the MU women a fan base of over 800 season ticket holders. The goal had been 300 but just like on the court, this program is reaching not for respectability but for nothing less than the Mid-American Conference title.

Catie Knable, one of only three seniors on the youthful edition of the women's team, led all MU players with a "double-double" of 16 rebounds and 14 points. In all, 13 of those boards came on the defensive end and that impressed MU head coach Royce Chadwick. "13 defensive rebounds come from the heart and Catie gives her all, 24-7," said Chadwick. "We have got great seniors. They have paid their dues."

The Ohio Legends team was led by two players from the WNBA. Cleveland Rocker Helen Darling (who played at Penn State in college) led all scorers with 21 points, hitting three of her four three-point goals in the final 3:08 of the game, and grabbing nine rebounds. Larecha Jones (Ohio State) of the the Charlotte Sting had eight points and seven rebounds. Also coming up big for Ohio was DeAnna Stevenson, who played at the University of Cincinnati. She had 10 rebounds. Scoring 10 points and four assists for Marshall was sophomore sensation Sikeetha Shepard-Hall while seniors Amy Smith and Nadia Swanigan added six points each. Swanigan added 11 boards.

"We won this game with defense," said Chadwick. "The defense was solid all night." Marshall held the Ohio Legends to only 21.1 percent (12-57) field goal shooting and 17.4 percent from three-point (4-23). The Herd had a plus-16 advantage in rebounding, 51-35. "We improved since the first exhibition (against WVU Tech 10 days ago)," said Knable. "The team has focused on defense and we went out and played good defense tonight. We knew this was a group of older, smart players and everyone had to block out and the rebounds would come. I give the credit (for my 16 rebounds) to my teammates."

Marshall's next action will be the season opener on November 21 at the "Fifth-Third Bank MU Classic." It will be a triple-header of basketball that day as the Marshall men also open that evening. In the Classic, game one features Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference against High Point University of the Big South Conference at 3:00 p.m. Then at 5:30 p.m., the Marshall women's team opens up with Morgan State University of Baltimore, Maryland, playing out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. At 8:00 p.m. that same evening, the Marshall men open Coach Ron Jirsa's first season at the helm of the Herd when they battle the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington. Wilmington has made two consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament out of the Colonial Athletic Association.

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