"The second half was one of our best, all season long," said Marshall coach Royce Chadwick. "Offensive and defensive."
And that was precisely what was needed in order for MAC East leading Marshall (11-7, 5-2 MAC) to knock down the MAC West leaders in Toledo (9-10, 5-3 MAC).
The first half was a close-knit affair, with Marshall taking the early 8-6 lead on Sikeetha Shepard-Hall's layup with 14:10 remaining. That basket erased what would be Toledo's only lead for the remainder of the game.
Sikeetha Shepard-Hall jumps for joy as the final buzzer sounds following Marshall's sixth-straight win. Toledo's Crystal Young (22) looks on.
However, the Rockets would end the first half on a 7-1 run to get within one point of Marshall (30-29) at the half.
"We came out focused," said Marshall forward KaShawna Curry of Marshall's second half. The Herd out-rebounded the Rockets by a healthy 27-18 margin in the second half, and combined that with double-digit scoring from Shepard-Hall and Curry.
The Rockets' Crystal Young hit a free throw with 12:43 left to get within two points again, 43-41. A quick 6-0 Marshall run effectively ended the Rockets' day after that. Oddly enough, four of those six points came at the free throw line.
A Danielle Bishop got Toledo back within single digits at 65-56 with 2:34 left, but MU's Kim Griffin grabbed a missed Crystal Champion free throw and got the put-back. That play epitomized Marshall's play in the second half; unselfish.
"Almost every [Toledo] possession, we had a turnover or got the possession arrow," said MU guard Teyonka Hodge.
The defensive effort kept Toledo to a dismal 37.5 % from the field (21-of-56), and the Rockets' inability to hit free throws (9-of-18, just 50.0%) didn't help their cause.
Marshall was led in scoring by Sikeetha Shepard-Hall with 21 points, while Teyonka Hodge (14) and KaShawna Curry (12) also scored in double figures. Crystal Champion grabbed 12 rebounds to go with her 8 points.
The Herd shot an even 50% from the field (29-of-58), and hit 65% of their free throws (13-of-20), while outrebounding the Rockets by a healthy 42-to-32 margin.
The end result was Chadwick's best start to MAC play in the program's history, in addition to the win being the 450th of his career. Shepard-Hall reflected that in the post-game press conference.
"Winning is always good," said MU guard Sikeetha Shepard-Hall. "The best thing about it is that we defended."
Marshall now looks to continue their MAC-winning ways as they host the Kent State Golden Flashes on Wednesday evening at the Henderson Center at 7pm.