Marshall Women Still In First With 73-60 Win

Marshall women's basketball woke up after a slow first half and pulled away from the Memphis Tigers late in the game to remain in a tie for first place in Conference USA with a 73-60 win Thursday night in the Cam Henderson Center. The Herd had double-doubles from seniors KaShawna Curry (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Modupe Ishola (10 pts., 15 boards) but Meg Withrow led MU to the win at the point.

Withrow scored 20 points for the Herd, had five assists, three steals and four rebounds while playing with a sore shoulder from a hard foul against East Carolina in Sunday's win. For MU head coach Royce Chadwick, the effort was above and beyond the call of duty from his sophomore point guard. "I can't put into words how I feel about Meg's performance," said the Herd coach, who picked up his 300th Division I win on the evening. "Some kids would not have gotten out of bed today, but there aren't many Meg Withrows. She plays 34 minutes after not practicing at all this week. We could not have won this game without her on the floor."

Marshall's Melody Hudson fought for this loose ball during the second half of The Herd's 73-60 win over Memphis on Thursday night. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall did have to win the game without one more player on the floor, as the Herd team is beginning to resemble a "MASH" unit due to injuries. With Withrow bruised up and back-up point guard Bridget Chacon still out with a leg injury, the Herd lost Meagan Samis with a possible fracture of her left arm or wrist near the end of the first half. Samis was taken to a local hospital for X-rays and will be evaluated on Friday, but Chadwick expects her to be out a month or more. "She is out for an indefinite period, out until the medical staff tells me she's back," said Chadwick. "She has been through so much, and had her whole family, a whole gang here to watch her tonight and Saturday against UAB." Samis, who just became eligible at the end of the first semester, transfered to Marshall from Georgia Tech. Samis did not play for the ACC's Yellow Jackets in 2005-06, after being the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year at UNC Wilmington in 2004-05. She had averaged 10.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12 games since becoming eligible at Marshall.

Marshall is now 7-2 and tied for first in Conference USA with UAB, who the Herd will host Saturday at 2 p.m., as well as Tulane. MU got off to a slow start against the Tigers, who lost for the 12th game in a row to fall to 3-20, 0-9 in C-USA. The Herd turned the ball over 13 times and shot just 27 percent from the floor (9-of-33) and 22 percent from three (2-of-9) in the first half, yet led 28-18. Memphis nearly matched the all-time Henderson Center opponent low scoring first half set last night in the men's game by East Carolina, who had just 17 points in the opening 20 minutes. Memphis shot even worse than the MU women, hitting just 6-of 26 on field goals and 3-of-13 on free throws, both just 23 percent. The 18 points for the Tigers was their low first half scoring of the year.

KaShawna Curry fought with Memphis' Paris Leonard for a rebound in the second half Thursday night. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

"We were flat," said Chadwick of the opening half. "I think our team came out, looked around and saw there was not as much excitement as on Sunday against ECU." MU drew nearly 1,400 for that CSTV nationally-televised game but had just 505 tonight on a Thursday night. "Even our bench was not into the game early. But the second half was rough and tumble. Lots of people went down and there was blood on the court." The Herd's Alix Barnett and UM's Jazmin Green both had to be helped from the floor after hard second-half fouls and both teams turned up the intensity, as well as the shooting. Marshall shot 41 percent in the second half, including 4-for-11 from three. Memphis was even better, hitting 6-of-15 from three for 40 percent, and 9-of-28 from three for the night (32 percent). Marshall controlled the boards all night, helped by the double-doubles by Curry and Ishola, and out-rebounding Memphis 54-to-43 including a 19-to-12 edge on the offensive glass. Ishola had six offensive rebounds and, to go with her four blocked shots, she and Curry each had nine defensive boards.

"KaShawna came to the bench when Memphis had cut it to three points and said, 'We are not losing this game,' and the other players responded to that," said Chadwick. "She brought a lot of energy to the second half, she was just electric. Modupe had a real good four minutes late in the second half (pushing MU out to a nine point lead, 64-55 with 3:09 to play), then Kendra King hit the three that put them away." King's three came with 2:21 on the clock and gave the Herd a 12-point edge. King gave MU the biggest lead of the night when she nailed a 17-foot shot just 36 seconds later and Marshall effectively put the game away at that point, leading 69-55 with just 1:45 to play on the way to the 73-60 win. For Memphis, Paris Leonard and Devin Necaise both had 12 points, with Necaise hitting 4-of-11 from the three-point line, and Aroha Jennings led the Tigers with 13 points and had seven boards. Ashley Thornton grabbed eight rebounds and chipped in nine points for UM.

Marshall will not have much time to heal up before Saturday's game with UAB, a day-night doubleheader with the women and the men (tipping at 7 p.m. Saturday) both facing the Blazers that day. The Marshall women's team will play the 1,000th game in school history, back to the first season in 1969-70 for the then-"Green Gals" of MU (who went 7-0 that first year), with a 2 p.m. tipoff that can be heard on WRVC-930 AM. Chadwick will coach the 700th game of his career, including Division I stops at Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin in his native Texas. Chadwick's all-time record in 23 seasons is 487 wins and 212 losses as a collegiate head coach and at MU, Chadwick improved to 87-80 in six years.

In Conference USA play on Thursday night, UAB rallied at East Carolina to win in overtime over the Pirates, 73-69, to improve to 12-9, 7-2 in league play. Also tied for first is Tulane, who won 71-56 at Houston to improve to a C-USA best 18-4 overall and also 7-2 in conference play. UTEP fell out of the first place tie tonight, however, falling to 17-4/6-3 in the circuit with a very surprising 84-31 loss at Rice, who is also 6-3 in league play, 13-9 overall. The Miners scored only eight points in the first half, then just 23 more in the second period. Also in league play, SMU (12-9/4-5) beat Central Florida 73-47, as UCF fell to 6-16/1-8 in C-USA play. Southern Miss (11-10/5-3) at Tulsa (7-13/2-6) was rescheduled for Friday night, due to winter weather delaying travel into Oklahoma.

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