Marshall Women Lose To WVU, 72-58

It was the best of times and the worst of times for the Marshall women's basketball team in the annual battle with West Virginia in the Toyota Capital City Classic on Wednesday night in the Charleston Civic Center. Marshall led all but 28 seconds of the first half and went to the lockerroom with a 30-27 lead. But WVU came out with an 11-0 run to start the second half and never looked back, out-scoring MU 45-28 in the the rest of the way and winning easily, 72-58 in fron of a sell-out crowd.

"It was a tale of two halves," said Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick. "I thought we came out and got out (played physically). Credit West Virginia. They did a great job of coming down and attacking us and we didn't have any offensive answers to their baskets." Marshall (10-7, 5-1 in Conference USA) went 0-for-7 from three in the second half and shot only 17 percent (3-of-18) from behind the arc. MU was out-rounded for the first time since losing at Virginia on December 20, as West Virginia gathered 35 boards to MU's 26 rebounds.

West Virginia (11-6, 3-3 in the Big East) was led by junior guard Meg Bulger, who like last year did not shoot very well from the floor or three in Charleston, but was marvelous at the free-throw line. Bulger had 18 points on just 3-of-13 shooting (1-for-5 from three). She was perfect from the line, however, hitting 11-for-11 (21-of-22 free-throws in the last two games with MU) and also coming up with four steals. Bulger scored 36 last year in the loss to Marshall, but wanted a win more than points.

"I would trade my left arm for a win," said Bulger. "I don't care how many I score as long as we win. I want to win and I'm so happy we won. We kept up the pressure on the defensive end. Didn't want to have another loss, with a two-game losing streak and Marshall, being a rival game, was the perfect game to break that streak." West Virginia's MVP, according to media voting, was junior guard Britney Davis-White, who had 15 points and hit 2-of-5 three-point shots in the second half to lead the Mountaineers to the quick start from which Marshall never recovered.

Also in double figures for WVU were sophomore forward Chakhia Cole, who had 15 points and a game-best nine rebounds, and back-up senior center Yelena Leuchanka, who had 13 points off the bench along with five rebounds. West Virginia shot 57 percent from the floor in the second half, hitting 13-of-23 shots, and were 24-of-29 from the free-throw line.

Marshall shot 20-for-52, 39 percent from the floor, and 15-of-20 from the free-throw line for 75 percent. The Herd had two players with 12 points, including MU MVP Sikeetha Shepard-Hall. The senior from Houston, Texas had a tough shooting night, as she battled a rash that sent her to the hospital following Tuesday's practice. Shepard-Hall hit only 2-of-11 shots and was 0-for-5 from three. Also scoring 12 points as junior Modupe Ishola, who also grabbed a MU leading five rebounds off the bench. Reshundra Smiley had 10 points, starting off 2-for-3 from behind the arc, but missed her last seven three-point shots in the game. Mary Pat Statler returned to the MU lineup after missing two games over the weekend with a seperated shoulder, but scored only two points with a brace on her left shoulder.

Marshall will look to regroup quickly as two huge Conference USA games loom Friday and Sunday in the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington. MU leads the league with a 5-1 mark in C-USA, but will face two second place 5-2 teams this weekend. First up is Tulsa (14-4 overall), Friday night at 7:00 p.m., followed by SMU (10-9 overall) on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Both games can be heard on WRVC 930-AM, with Luke Beach calling the play-by-play. West Virginia will play another double-header with their men's team on Sunday at St. John's, beginning at Noon.

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