Both teams are nursing injuries at point guard. "Chris is about 80 percent," said men's head coach Ron Jirsa of Marshall's point guard Chris Ross. Ross strained a knee against WVU, missed the Houston game but has played at a very high level despite the pain. "There is just no opportunity to rest him." In the past four games, Ross has scored 26 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, dished 22 assists and only turned the ball over five times, including just once each game at Tulsa, a 63-60 loss, and at Central Florida, a 75-58 loss to UCF. For the season, Ross is averaging 6.9 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game while only turning the ball over 2.3 times per game.
Chris Ross, here scoring on Ohio, has averaged over eight points, five assists and just one turnover per game since returning to the line-up full-time following missing the Houston game . photo by Greg Perry/Herd Insider staff
Meanwhile for the women's team, Meg Withrow took a very hard hit versus East Carolina two weeks ago and has been forced to continue to play even with a sore shoulder. Again, despite the pain, Withrow has led the women in scoring in four of five games since ECU. She has scored 79 points in the last five games, an average of nearly 16 points per game, and has dished out an average of five assists per game with 25 over that period. Marshall has, however, lost three of its last five and three in a row. Withrow is the Herd's only true point guard, with Bridget Chacon sidelined with a knee injury.
"We didn't play well and that was pretty obvious," women's head coach Royce Chadwick said after the loss at SMU, 65-48, on Sunday. "They (the losses) don't send you home in February, so we have to come home and regroup. I hope we learned from it." Marshall turned the ball over 25 times against SMU and wasted a 42-32 rebounding edge by shooting only 32.8 percent.
The MU men are now 9-15 overall, 4-6 in Conference USA. That puts the Herd in a three-way tie for eighth place in the league with UAB and Tulane, both of whom the Herd has beaten once this year. While Memphis is in first, and ranked No. 8 in the nation at 21-3, 11-0 in Conference USA, and East Carolina is last at 5-18, 0-10 in league play, the battle for second to 11th is only five games apart. UCF, Houston and Rice are 7-3; Southern Miss and Tulsa are 5-5; and SMU is 13-11 overall, but just 2-8 in league play for first-year head coach Matt Doherty. The Mustangs have lost three in a row coming into Wednesday's game and are just 2-8 in its last ten games. SMU has struggled on the road, just 3-6 overall and 1-4 in C-USA. SMU's last win came at UAB on Jan. 31. Ike Ofoegbu is the only Mustang player averaging double digits at 13.0 points per game. Center Bamba Fall enters the game as the league's leading shot blocker at 2.58 blocks per game.
The Herd committed 19 turnovers against UCF, which resulted in 26 Golden Knight points. For the game, MU shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from three, the second-best percentage of the season from behind the arc. Sophomore Markel Humphrey led the Herd with 13 points, while Tre Whitted added 12 points and Mark Dorris chipped in 11. Humphrey leads Marshall in scoring at 14.1 (10th in C-USA) points per game and also leads the team on the glass with 6.3 rebounds (T-5th in C-USA) per contest. Dorris is next for the Herd at 12.6 points per game, and senior forward Travis Aikens averages 11.0 points per game, but has scored 40 points in his last three games. The men are 7-4 at home and home teams are winning 75 percent of their games in C-USA this season.
There will be numerous promotions going on Valentine's Day at Henderson Center. The first 100 lucky ladies through the gates will have a chance to win a pair of ½ karat diamond earrings from Jewelry Gold and Pawn. There will also be a halftime dating game where a lucky couple will walk away with a prize pack including hotel accommodations, dinner for two, one dozen roses, his and her Marshall Jewelry, and a 60-minute massage. The "Kiss Cam" will also be on hand to capture all of the Valentine's Day kisses in the Henderson Center.
In the women's game on Thursday, the opponent will be league-leading Tulane, who is 21-4 overall and 10-2 in league play, one game up on UAB at 9-3 and three games in front of fifth place Marshall and East Carolina. UTEP, who comes in Saturday for a 2 p.m. game, and Rice are both 8-4, but the Miners are 19-4 overall while the Owls of Rice are just 15-10. The Green Wave have won nine games in a row and are an amazing 5-1 on the road in Conference USA play, 8-2 away from New Orleans in all road games this season. Tulane is tied with Rice averaging a league-best 72.2 points per game while allowing only 59, also best in the league. Marshall averages 66 points per game but allows 64.8 of its opponents.
Meg Withrow, shown here against West Virginia, has led the Herd the last five games with an average of 16 points and five rebounds per contest. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Besides Withrow, the Herd has been led by Modupe Ishola with a double-double scoring-rebounding average. She is averaging 14.2 points per game and 10.5 rebounds for Marshall. Ishola has posted 13 double-doubles this season, including 18 points and 10 boards against SMU Sunday. The Herd has lost third-leading scorer Megan Samis with a broken arm until at least March, if she can return even then for the C-USA Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., who was giving the team 9.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Alyssa Hammond is averaging 8.0 points per game while Kendra King averages 7.0 points and 5.8 rebounds and senior KaShawn Curry is close behind with 6.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
On Saturday, it is the second of two day-night doubleheaders for the Marshall men's and women's teams. The women will face UTEP at 2 p.m. and that game can be heard on WRVC 930 AM. The men will battle the Green Wave of Tulane and is looking for the season sweep at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. All men's games can be heard on the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network and locally in the Tri-State on WRVC 930 AM and WDGG 93.7 FM "The Dawg."