Binghamton Free Throws Doom Herd, 77-68

The old adage that there is nothing free about free throws rang true for the Marshall women's basketball team on Friday night against Binghamton. The Herd made only 8-of-17 free throws while Binghamton drained 20-of-25, enabling the Bearcats to keep enough of a cushion to get the 77-68 win at the Henderson Center...

Marshall coach Royce Chadwick pointed out that the two halves were completely different for his squad; the first half featured a 10-point performance by guard Sikeetha Shepard-Hall, while the second half was a story of missed free throws (Marshall) and made free throws (Binghamton).

"They got to the line a lot and hit 20, and that was the difference in the game," said Marshall coach Royce Chadwick.

Marshall guard Teyonka Hodge drove the lane against Binghamton's Jen Blues. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

That first half was a see-saw affair, to say the least. Binghamton center Laine Kurpniece was highly effective in the paint, and her short jumper with 7:09 left gave the Bearcats their largest lead of the half at 26-15. MU's Sikeetha Shepard-Hall went on a one-woman shooting spree of sorts after that, scoring five quick points. Teammate Jill Justice and Shepard-Hall each drained threes, cutting Binghamton's lead to only one point at 27-26. The Bearcats extended that lead by one point, to 32-30, at the half.

Whatever Chadwick said to his team at the half worked well, at least for the first five minutes of the second half. Marshall went on a 15-7 run to begin the second half that ended with Michele Hagan's jumper with 14:41 left that put Marshall up by six at 45-39.

"We had opportunities to put them away when we were up six or eight points," said MU coach Chadwick. "But then we had some lulls and didn't seal people off and we had people out of position."

Sikeetha Shepard-Hall scored two of her 20 points over Binghamton's Laura Sario on Friday night. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Thus began the Binghamton free throw shooting spree. After shutting down Kurpniece's advantage in the paint with a zone defense, Marshall could do nothing at Kurpniece hit 7-of-9 free throws in the second half. In fact, Binghamton drained 19-of-23 in the second half, while Marshall mustered just 7-of-15.

The result was Binghamton tying the game, 48-48, on two Laura Sario free throws with 11:12 left. A pair of three-pointers by Shea Kenny and one by Jen Blues extended the Binghamton lead out to as many as 11 points, 67-56, with 3:00 to go. The Bearcats made 10-of-11 free throws down the stretch to keep the lead, and sealed the 77-68 win.

"We started the game well, then Marshall made a big run and I was happy with the way we responded to that run," said Binghamton coach Rich Conover.

Shooting stastistics were pretty much even between the two teams, with the glaring difference being free throws: Binghamton finished with 80% success at 20-of-25, while Marshall hit just 7-of-15 for 47.1%. Sikeetha Shepard-Hall led the scoring for MU with 20 points, while Crystal Champion added 11 points and Modupe Ishola scored 7 points but did grab 12 rebounds.

The loss puts Marshall at an even 3-3, while Binghamton bumped up to 3-2 overall with the win. Next up for The Herd is a road trip to play at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio on December 13.

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