Point guard Sharnee Zoll's career-high five 3-pointers and mastery of the Cavaliers' fast-break offense proved to be detrimental to Marshall's chances of posting its 500th program victory. Zoll, a junior, scored a game-high 19 points with five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 37 minutes. She was joined in double-digits by freshman Monica Wright (18 points), sophomore Lyndra Littles (17) and senior Brenna McGuire (13).
Littles grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to tally her sixth double-double out of nine games this season. It marked her second double-double against the Thundering Herd after she registered a 13-point, 11-rebound performance as a freshman last season in Charlottesville, Va.
Modupe Ishola battle for a rebound with Virginia's Jayna Hartig in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Virginia (7-2) came out of the gates on fire, shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half. The Cavaliers opened up a double-digit lead nine minutes into the game before Marshall (6-3) began trading baskets and eventually cut into its deficit. Down 16 points, 39-23 with 1:43 left in the first half, the Herd closed the half on an 8-0 run to enter intermission down 39-31.
Virginia committed four fouls during Marshall's half-ending spurt while Marshall got a three-point play from Modupe Ishola off a nice feed from guard Bridget Chacon .
Alyssa Hammond drove the lane against Virginia. Hammond finished with six points. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
A missed Meg Withrow 3-pointer to open the second half was quickly answered by Zoll's third trey of the game as UVa regained a double-digit lead, 42-31. After falling behind by 14 points on a Wright jumper at 18:07, Marshall held UVa to only one point in the next six-plus minutes. The Herd, however, could muster only eight points in that span to close the gap to six points.
The game continued to be up-and-down as Virginia's scoring runs created double-digit leads that Marshall eventually responded to. Down the stretch, however, the Herd would get no closer than eight points as its second-half shooting woes were too much to overcome. MU converted only 23.1 percent of its second-half field goal attempts.
Zoll's final two 3-pointers proved to be daggers to the Herd's comeback chances. With Marshall down nine points with 4:31 remaining, Zoll and Wright executed a give-and-go on an inbounds play that left Zoll open in the corner behind the line. Two minutes later, after two Chacon free throws cut the lead to 10 points, Zoll again nailed a trey after playing inside-out with center Siedah Williams.
Ishola posted her second straight double-double and fourth of the season with team highs in points (15) and rebounds (12). She also sparked a Herd free throw revival by going 5-for-5 from the line to guide MU to a season-best 82.6 percent (19-of-23) from the charity stripe.
"Marshall was up to the task, they are very physical and strong inside," Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan said. "You have to play well to beat them here (Cam Henderson Center). This is a hard place to play. Everyone in the country knows it's a tough place to play.
"We respect Marshall and knew it wasn't going to be like it was at our place last year."
The Cavaliers dealt the Herd a 32-point loss at University Hall last December in the first matchup of the teams since 1993.
"They are well-coached and play hard," Ryan added. "We knew we were going to have a hard-fought game."
Marshall's ability to overcome big deficits in the game to keep it competitive also impressed Littles. "I admire them for not giving up and continuing to play hard," she said. "They were relentless tonight."
UVa recorded 30 points in the paint to Marshall's 18, the first time the Herd failed to score more points in the lane than its opponent. The Cavs were also tough on the boards, scoring a 42-31 rebounding advantage which helped lead to a 14-4 edge in fast break points.
"The difference was they got their break going and we dug ourselves a hole with our transition defense," Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick said. "Our kids played hard all night long, but we gave them way too many open looks."
Sophomore Kendra King netted 11 points with six rebounds for MU. After hitting her first career 3-pointer in MU's previous game versus Houston, the forward went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc against Virginia.
The Herd will take a break for final exams before playing its next game on Dec. 16 at former Mid-American Conference rival Ohio. Tip-off is at 2 p.m. from the Convocation Center.