The Thundering Herd upended Houston 57-41 on Dec. 2 at the Cam Henderson Center to move to 2-0 all-time against UH. Houston guard Tye Jackson, C-USA's leading scorer with 23 points per game, did not play in that December matchup due to injury. Marshall center Modupe Ishola scored a then career-high 23 points with 14 rebounds in the contest.
Tulane claimed the C-USA regular season title and the tournament's No. 1 seed. The Green Wave will await the winner of the Marshall-Houston matchup in a Friday quarterfinal tilt at 2 p.m. ET. UAB (No. 2), East Carolina (No. 3) and Rice (No. 4) also secured first-round byes. Following the Herd-Cougars opening game of the tournament,the first-ever meeting in post-season play between MU and UH, No. 5 UTEP will face No. 12 Memphis at 4:30 p.m. No. 7 Southern Miss, which defeated the Herd in Saturday's regular-season finale, will take on host and defending conference champion Tulsa at 7 p.m. SMU, the No. 6 seed, will tip-off against No. 11 UCF in the day's final game at 9:30 p.m. All first and second round games will be video streamed live on the world wide web at ConferenceUSA.com. The semifinals are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3. Both games will be televised by CSTV. The championship game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. next Sunday, March 4 and will be televised on ESPN2.
On Saturday in the final regular season game of the year for the Herd, every player for Southern Miss scored in an 82-44 victory over Marshall at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Miss.Earlier on Thursday, Feb. 22, the Herd broke a five-game losing streak with a win at UCF, 64-46, in Orlando, Fla. In the game at Southern Miss, the Herd never got on track and fell behind by 30 points in the first five minutes of the second half. Southern Miss (15-14, 9-7) sank 49.3 percent of its shots and turned the ball over eight times to the Herd's 23 turnovers. USM scored 26 points off MU turnovers and dominated the paint to the tune of a 42-12 advantage in the lane."We're just trying to get out of (Hattiesburg) alive," said head coach Royce Chadwick. "We didn't come out with much energy and we didn't come out with much fire. They took it to us from the get-go." MU freshman Alix Barnette scored a team-high 12 points for Marshall in its lowest scoring output of the season. Modupe Ishola pulled down eight rebounds, leaving her at 299 boards on the season.
Marshall was held scoreless for the first 5:15 of the second half while Southern Miss built its lead to 30 points, 49-19. Guard Meg Withrow ended the drought with an elbow jumper, but the Golden Eagles quickly answered with another three-pointer by Kendra Reed, who hit three three-pointers to give USM a 7-for-18 mark from distance in the game. Southern Miss came out for the tip ready to run with the Herd on Senior Day. The Golden Eagles shot 41.2 percent in the opening half en route to a 33-19 halftime lead. USM's lone senior, point guard Kristin Chaney, dished out three assists in the first half with three rebounds. Marshall's 19 points ties for its lowest first-half total of the season (Nov. 23 vs. Monmouth).
Marshall began the game cold from the floor, sinking just two of its first 11 shots (18.2 percent). The Herd was also sloppy with the basketball in the early stages, with USM holding a 9-0 edge in turnovers at one point in the first half. The Golden Eagles scored nine first-half points off 13 Marshall turnovers.
At UCF, MU ended its five-game losing streak and posted a season sweep of UCF with a resounding 64-46 win over the Golden Knights at UCF Arena on Thursday. The Thundering Herd never trailed and led by as many as 23 points in the second half. Marshall's lead was threatened at the outset of the second half when UCF closed to within 10 points, but the Herd regrouped and kept the Golden Knights (8-20, 3-12) at bay the rest of the game.
Ishola tallied her 14th double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Withrow netted a game-high 15 points, followed by 11 points and seven rebounds from junior forward Meagan Samis, who continues to play with a cast on her left arm and hand. The Herd used a hybrid starting lineup due to its injury woes. Withrow, who missed the last two games, returned to the lineup and came off the bench for the first time this season. The sophomore played 22 minutes and was 5-for-8 from the floor, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Senior forward KaShawna Curry started at point guard for Withrow and enjoyed a strong outing at a new position. She scored two points, with five rebounds and an assist, and got the Herd offense flowing.
Barnette got her first career start at UCF. The guard scored eight points with two rebounds and an assist in a career-high 24 minutes. Sophomore forward Kendra King (Fairfax, Va.) provided a strong presence in the lane, scoring nine points with seven rebounds and a career-high five assists. Ishola grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first half, eight total, just four off her career high for offensive rebounds in a game (10). Withrow scored 12 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting (2-for-2 3-pt. FG). The Herd shot 45.5 percent in the first half and held UCF to 26.7 percent.