"I watched a lot of Wright State tape and everyone of their games are just like that," said Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick of WSU. "I knew it would be a difficult battle, I knew it would be a tough, tough night. Modupe did an outstanding job of positioning herself and we got the ball into the paint and our girls did a great job of getting her the basketball." Marshall out-scored Wright State by 48 to 20 in points scored in the paint.
Ishola had set her career highs back on December 2, with 23 points and 15 rebounds, in the win over Houston to open Conference USA play. She had blocked three shots in a game on seven different occasions. She was almost perfect from the field, hitting 13-of-14 shots, also a career-best for double-digit shots attempts (9-of-11 on two occasions in her career) and 4-of-6 at the free throw line. It's the third game this year she has missed only one shot in a game, as was Navy (8-of-9) and Robert Morris (5-of-6). "As soon as we stepped on the floor, Meg (Withrow, the Herd point guard) said 'These girls are little, Modupe, we're going to pound it to you. One thing Coach Pruett said, and I never cried before, is 'You will never play with this group of girls again.' I am a senior, I won't play with them again and I glad that I here for them." Bob Pruett, the former Herd football coach, was a guest coach for the women tonight along with his wife, Elsie.
"You might not believe this but I don't look at stats," said Ishola. "I don't look at numbers. But I can't pass the ball to myself and I'm glad they have the confidence to pass it to me. Just making sure they are ready and confident, that's what I am all about." Withrow was right about the Herd's height advantage with the 6-foot-2 Ishola. Wright State's biggest player was a lean 6-foot-1 Erica Richardson, who came in off the bench, but the Raiders started 5-foot-11 forwards Danielle Duncan, who fouled out with one point, and Sierra Crayton, who did score seven points and grab nine rebounds. The Herd out-rebounded WSU by 40-to-31 on the night, with junior guard Jill Justice tying her career-high on rebounds with five and adding three assists. The Herd had 19 assists in the game, led by Meg Withrow's seven.
Modupe Ishola, shown here against Houston, topped the 23 points and 15 rebounds she had against the Cougars with 30 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots against Wright State as part of the Herd's 500th win in school history. file photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Chadwick was also very moved to be a part of the 500th win in the history of the Marshall women's basketball program, which began back in 1969-70. MU is now 500-488 all-time. "I think its unprecedented. To get 500 wins is very special with me, especially with Coach Pruett with us," said Chadwick. Pruett is the all-time winningest coach in MU football history, with 93 wins, five Mid-American Conference titles and five bowl victories in Divison I-A play and the National Championship on a perfect 15-0 seasonin his first year in 1996. "He helped us get started here."
Ishola, one of two four-year seniors (as is KaShawna Curry) was also very excited to be a part of history at Marshall. "I feel like it is such a blessing just to be here," said the Herd's center, who is averaging a double-double at 15.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game after the Wright State explosion. "To be a part of this is great to be here and to be part of this team is special."
Two sore points for the Herd in the historic win were turnovers and free-throw shooting. Marshall turned the ball over 22 times, 16 of those coming in the first half. Wright State had 14 steals, leading to 16 of its 54 points on the night. The Raiders were led by guards Brittney Whiteside, with 18 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three, and Tyanda Hammock, with 15 points including three three-point shots. "It's going to take us some time to get our team settled in," said Chadwick. "We've got so many young kids, we are not even out of the box (when it comes to experience)," said Chadwick of the turnovers and foul shooting. "They are all sophomores and freshmen, first-year kids. We are counting on Modupe, KaShawna and Bridget (Chacon, the Herd's senior point guard) and Jill to hold things together until we get them there.
"Alyssa Hammond played a new position (at the shooting guard) and it will take her a few games to settle in. I told Jill that Alyssa was moving to her position and would she help her and teach her and she says, 'Sure, Coach, I'll help' and helps Hammond to play her position. Then Jill comes in and gets those rebounds for us. She does nothing on the court that gets her name in the paper, but everything that wins a basketball game. What more could you want. Meagan Samis played in her second game, and she is still learning our system. We are trying to intergrate this girl into our program. We are a work in progress. If you look at Conference USA, we are going to have to win that tournament. We'll have to play good in March."
The Herd won't have much time to celebrate this win, as they will fly out at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning for Niagara. The Herd will play the Purple Eagles on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in a matinee that will get both teams headed home for the holidays a bit earlier. That and all Herd women's games can be heard in Huntington on WMUL 88.1 FM, the Marshall student station, or on the web at www.marshall.edu/wmul. Marshall will take the short Christmas break, then play at Richmond on Dec. 28 and re-enter Conference USA play on January 2, 2007 at East Carolina. The Herd is 1-0 in C-USA play, thanks to the win over Houston. The next home game is Jan. 7 versus the Golden Knights of Central Florida. UCF will be at the Henderson Center for a 7:00 p.m. tip. MU will celebrate the 1,000th game in school history on Feb. 3 when Marshall hosts UAB at the Henderson Center.