And for most of the game, it didn't appear like either team was going to win on offense. The Herd and the Bobcats took their time on offense in the first half, and a 23-21 Ohio lead at the break was the result.
"I don't think either team had their best offensive night," said Marshall coach Royce Chadwick. "But the defense was very tenacious, all night long. It was for a home-court seeing [in the MAC tourney] and everybody laid it on the line."
In the second half, Ohio shot out to a 35-27 lead on Andrea Johnson's three-pointer at the 14:41 mark. With 11 minutes remaining, Marshall coach Royce Chadwick pulled the trigger on the defensive pressure. As a result, Mary Pat Statler's lay-in with 6:36 left pulled MU even with Ohio at 41-41.
"It was kind of a slow process for us to dig our way back into the game," Chadwick added. "We tried to get more of a controlled press, and it gave them some problems."
Teyonka Hodge looked for baseline room during The Herd's 56-52 win over Ohio on Saturday afternoon at the Henderson Center. Marshall is guaranteed a first-round MAC tournament game with the win.
Marshall held off the Bobcats over an intense two-minute span, beginning at the 3:56 mark. Marshall forced two of Ohio's 26 turnovers and converted them to easy baskets. OU's Angel Hornsberger twice coughed up the ball in the final minutes, the first when MU's Teyonka Hodge grabbed the ball from Hornsberger.
Hodge hit a layup in transition after that turnover, giving Marshall a 48-47 lead. MU's Amy Smith grabbed an errant pass from Hornsberger with 2:31 left.
When OU's Andrea Johnson drained a three to cut the MU lead to 53-50, Marshall's Mary Pat Statler got the dish from Hodge and nailed a three of her own with :31 remaining. Latreece Bagley's layup with :06 left was too little, too late for Ohio, and Marshall secured the 56-52 win.
"I'm playing how I know I can, and just letting it fly," Statler described the late three-pointer.
"It's March, now," Chadwick summed up. "And it's a different feeling in March."
Sikeetha Shepard-Hall led Marshall with 18 points, with Mary Pat Statler scoring 14 points. Teyonka Hodge dished out 6 assists and scored 8 points. The Herd shot 21-of-54 (38.9%) in the game, and hit 10-of-13 free throws (76.9%). Marshall turned the ball over 23 times, while Ohio committed 26 turnovers.
The Herd held Ohio to 46.0% shooting (23-of-50), but Ohio hit only 3-of-15 threes (20%) and only 3-of-7 free throws (42.9%). Ohio had four players in double figures: Andrea Johnson (17), Erin Isbell (12), Latreece Bagley (11) and Angel Hornsberger (10 points).
With the win, Marshall (15-11 overall, 7-8 MAC) guaranteed itself a first-round MAC tourney game at home, plus the program's first winning season since 1997. Marshall's final home game of the season (senior night) is set for next Tuesday evening at 7pm against Akron.