Women Advance In MAC Tourney Via 68-56 Win

Cleveland, Ohio-- "The score says we got beat by 12, but it feels like we got beat by 40. I felt like we were never in the game." Toledo coach Mark Ehlen summed up the Marshall Experience in the first round of the MAC Tournament here at Gund Arena. Ehlen's Rockets got beat in the middle by Marshall, 68-56, and The Herd advances on to the semifinals against Kent State on Friday at 2:30pm...

Marshall's inside duo of Crystal Champion and KaShawna Curry finished with a somewhat-rare double in double-doubles (13 points, 13 rebounds for Curry and 10 points, 12 rebounds for Champion). "They're not the biggest kids in the world, but they brought it tonight," summed up Marshall coach Royce Chadwick.

"Every game is a hard-fought game in March," said Curry. "We pretty much said we had to go out and get the boards. I think we really went out and crashed [them] hard."

Teyonka Hodge split the lane against Toledo on Wednesday night. Hodge led all MU scorers with 15 points in the second-round MAC Tournament game at Cleveland's Gund Arena.photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

In the first half, Marshall pulled away for good from Toledo courtesy of a Sikeetha Shepard-Hall three with 7:35 remaining. That basket put The Herd up 20-17, and Teyonka Hodge added another three that pulled MU away to a 38-29 halftime lead. Hodge was the lone star on the Marshall side in the first half, scoring 13 points.

"We have good athletes, and when they're rested and ready they can do some things that normal people can't do. I thought the rest was a huge factor for us tonight, because we were able to get out and play at our level," said Chadwick of Marshall's first-round bye in the tournament.

In the second half, Chadwick had to endure the rath of Toledo's Danielle Bishop. At the 15:02 mark, Bishop single-handedly went on a personal 6-0 run that pulled the Rockets to within two points, at 42-40.

"We really buckled down after a timeout," said Curry of the mini-run by Bishop. "We knew they were trying to get momentum. Our defense came out on top, executing the plays one-by-one."

Marshall's Crystal Champion drove the lane against Toledo on Wednesday night. Champion hit a double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds against the Rockets. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

" We had some execution lapses, but I thought we played hard," said Chadwick of Bishop's run in the second half. "We didn't let the bad things that happened to us get to our head."

In fact, Marshall answered Bishop's run with a 13-0 run to effectively put the game away. Curry and Kim Griffin each scored four points in the melee that consumed just 4:11 from the clock. UT cut the lead to 10 on two occasions after that, but by then Marshall had done most of their damage.

"They really pounded us inside," said Toledo coach Mark Ehlen. "They're post players clearly out-played our post players."

Teyonka Hodge joined Curry and Champion in double figures, scoring 15 points to lead Marshall. Sikeetha Shepard-Hall added 11 to be the fourth of five MU starters to finish in double digits. Only Bishop could muster double figures for the Rockets, scoring 25 points in the loss. Marshall held Karin Hoogendam to just 4 points before she fouled out late in the second half.

Marshall (19-9, 12-4 MAC) now advances to play Kent State (20-8, 12-4 MAC) in the semifinals at Gund Arena on Friday afternoon at 2:30pm. The Golden Flashes downed Ohio 93-74 earlier in the day to advance.

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