Women Fall To UTEP, 5th Loss In Row

Marshall's women's basketball team is in "uncharted territory," according to head coach Royce Chadwick. The Herd was without any of its point guards for the final home game of the year against the UTEP Miners at the Cam Henderson Center. Despite that, Marshall fought back from a 12-point deficeit with 10 minutes down to 52-51 with 2:55 remaining before losing its fifth straight, 64-57.

The five losses in a row are the first such streak for Chadwick's Herd since five in a row last season between Jan. 22 and Feb. 4. That team, however, rallied to win four of its last seven and moved to the second day in the Conference USA Tournament. This year's team has only two games left before the tourney, at UCF and at Southern Miss, before moving on to Tulsa for this year's tournament on March 1-4.

Alix Barnett scored two of her 14 points against UTEP on Saturday. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

"I've got no problem with the effort of the team, but we were very hesitant on offense," said Chadwick following the loss on Senior Day. Marshall honored its five seniors - center Modupe Ishola, forward KaShawna Curry, point guard Bridget Chacon, walk-on Angela Orsini and manager Holly Jo Burns, who celebrated her 22nd birthday as well - but those players were not all where they were listed in the program. Chacon is one of four point guards the Herd has lost since the start of practice to injury, although she did make a token start for senior day then went immediately to the bench two seconds in.

Curry, a life-long forward at 6-foot-1, moved to the point when Meg Withrow was held out to rest her seperated shoulder. Marshall is hoping to rest Withrow for the upcoming tournament, but she had been bumped very hard in the last two games, at SMU and at home Thursday against Tulane when she left the game two minutes in. Actually, Curry did a pretty good job, scoring eight points, pulling seven rebounds, dishing an assist and making two steals against five turnover in 31 minutes. Without a point guard, however, it was hard for Marshall to get into its sets. "We didn't run the half-court offense all night," said Chadwick. "We ran a couple of specialty plays, but then we hesitated to shoot open shots or missed lay-ups and stick backs on offensive rebounds. We are probably as beat up mentally as physically now, with five straight losses and the loss of four point guards. I've coached over 700 games in my career, but this is uncharted territory."

Modupe Ishola hauled in one of her 9 rebounds against UTEP. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Ishola echoed her coach. "I'm mad, I'm upset, I'm frustrated," said the Herd center, who had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead MU. "We have not had a streak like this this year." In fact, the Herd had lost two games in a row only once, and that was to Virginia and at Ohio. Five games ago, Marshall was 7-2 in league play, 14-8 overall and tied for first after beating East Carolina and Memphis at home. But the ECU game was the game that Withrow was hurt in and then Meagan Samis broke her left wrist against UAB in the first of five straight losses. Samis is back, but playing one-handed with a soft cast on her non-shooting hand and arm. She still had six points, two assists, a rebound and a steal, while freshman Alix Barnett came off the bench to give the Herd 14 points.

UTEP was pressing the Herd throughout the game, with Marshall without a true point, and that disrupted the Herd on offense as well as the shot clock often had just 10-12 seconds for a shot after MU beat the defense over half court. The Miners guards also stepped up for big afternoon, combining for 40 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and were 13-for-14 at the free throw line, in moving to 20 wins (20-6, 9-5 in C-USA). Jareica Hughes scored 14 points and had six rebounds, while Shalanan Taylor had 13 points and five rebounds. Neither of those guards measure over 5-foot-4. Meanwhile, Ana Valtierra had a perfect night, 3-for-3 (all from three) from the field and 4-for-4 from the line for 13 points. Her three, the first in six attempts during the MU comeback, gave the Miners breathing room at 55-51 and they never allowed the Herd to get closer than five points in the final 2:30 of the game.

Marshall will take a couple of days off to rest its legs and regroup, according to Chadwick, before leaving Wednesday for Orlando and a meeting with Central Florida's Golden Knights. The Herd finishes the regular season on Sat., Jan. 24, with the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss before moving on to the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa on March 1. All women's games can be heard on the Marshall student radio station, WMUL 88.1 FM, or marshall.edu/wmul on the worldwide web. Herd Insider will cover the women's tournament in Tulsa, as well as the men's tournament in Memphis, Tenn. on March 7-10.

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