Crystal Champion scored all 17 of her points in the second half of the UCF game to lead the Marshall comeback. Champion, a junior forward, went 8-for-10 from the field in the second half to give the Thundering Herd its first win of the season after it trailed at the half. She added five rebounds, three assists and a steal. UCF (Central Florida), who fell to 4-13, 2-4 in Conference USA play and saw Marshall converted 65.7 percent of its second-half attempts to cruise past the Golden Knights for the Herd's fifth-straight win in C-USA play.
Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick, coaching against his former Stephen F. Austin assistant, UCF head coach Gail Striegler, gave his squad a motivational halftime talk as it played with more purpose in the second half. Champion especially seemed to take note, scoring the team's first three field goals on slick drives to the basket. Her shots fell from all over the floor, including a fade away in the paint and a three-pointer at 11:57 to put Marshall up six points, 51-45. "I think, for the first time this season, we were down at the half and came back and won," said Chadwick following the game. "We're maturing in that capacity. We didn't play well in the first half. Sikeetha (Shepard-Hall) played the point and everyone was out of postion. We were tenative and out of rhythm."
Herd guard Jill Justice got the starting nod, the first of her career, in place of Mary Pat Statler. Statler did not dress as a result of a shoulder injury. That forced Shepard-Hall, who has split time with Statler and Bridget Chacon' at the point since Teyonka Hodge left the team for personal reasons last month, to play much of the game at the point, playing a team-high 36 minutes in the win. Shepard-Hall nailed a trey to tie the game at 35-35, bringing Marshall back to even from its halftime deficit. Herd center Modupe Ishola would put Marshall up for good with layup at 13:59 to play in the contest. From there, it was all Marshall as it would run-and-gun its way to a comfortable lead, by as many as 20. Ishola pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, helping Marshall to a 42-28 advantage on the glass.
Shepard-Hall netted a game-high 25 points (10-of-18) with a pair of assists and three steals. Her three three-point field goals on four attempts put her one made three behind Natal Rosko for the Marshall career record of 136 three-pointers made. The Herd hit a season-high nine three-pointers on the night, going 9-for-14 from long range. Senior Reshundra Smiley made three three-pointers (3-for-6), to finish with 11 points.
Marshall entered halftime down five points. UCF shot 48.0 percent from the floor in the first half. The Golden Knights, however, held Marshall scoreless for seven minutes, after MU led 17-8 with just over 11 minutes to play, and the Knights went on a 17-0 run to take a halftime lead. Houston led UCF in scoring with 23 points, aided by a 7-for-16 effort from three-point range.
On Sunday, Marshall trailed 36-29 at the half and by nine points with 55 seconds left in the game, but came up short at 67-63, suffering its first loss in C-USA play. Southern Miss improved to just 8-10 overall, but is in a three-way tie for second with Tulsa and SMU at 5-2 in league play. "We charged pretty hard down the stretch," said Chadwick," to get back into it. We needed a couple of bounces to go our way and we didn't get them, but that's life on the road. You have to outplay your opponent on the road to win, but we didn't do that."
Marshall was led by Shepard-Hall with 15 points and the Herd guard added five rebounds. She also hit one three-point basket to tie Natal Rosko all-time at MU with 136 treys in their careers. She can break the record against WVU on Wednesday. Also chipping in 14 points was Ishola, who had five rebounds. Leading the Herd in rebounds was KaShawna Curry, who had eight boards and 10 points and Bridget Chacon' had 10 points on a 4-for-6 shooting night, 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Marshall shot only 35 percent from the floor (28-for-69), and just 28 percent from three (5-for-18), while USM shot 45 percent from the floor (22-of-49) and 68 percent from the free-throw line, coverting 17-of-25 shots to just 10-of-13 for the Herd.
The Herd women will now prepare for Wednesday's Toyota Capital City Classic game with West Virginia University (10-6/3-3 in the Big East) and having lost its last two games in a row; at Villanova (75-59) and at home Sunday with Marquette (80-75). The annual game is at the Charleston Civic Center. The women tip at 5:30 p.m. and coverage begins at 5 p.m. on WRVC 930 AM. The game will be joined at 7 p.m. on WDGG 93.7 FM, "The Dawg," followed by coverage of the men's game at 8 p.m.