Pitt Wins 5th 3rd MU Classic, 70-66 over Herd

In the six years of the Fifth Third MU Classic, Marshall had not only won five straight championships but was 11-0 in the tournament. Both of those streaks ended with a 70-66 loss to Pittsburgh in the finals on Saturday at the Henderson Center. Marshall falls to 3-4 on the young season, while the Panthers of the Big East, who received 41 votes in the AP poll last week, are 5-2 with the win.

Pitt was led by senior center Marcedes Walker, who was named tournament MVP with back-to-back double-doubles in the Fifth Third MU Classic, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. Walker scored 23 points and recorded 16 rebounds against the Herd, hitting on 9-of-13 shots down close and adding a block and a steal. "We had no answer for number 45," said Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick after the game. The Herd tried a number of combinations of players, including Tynikki Crook, Meagan Samis, Chantelle Handy and Alyssa Hammond with very little success.

In fact, the Panthers dominated Marshall on the boards with 47 rebounds to just 28 for the Herd. 18 of the Pittsburgh rebounds were on the offensive glass while Marshall had just 11 offensive rebounds. The Herd's leader on the glass was Handy with six. "I think its obvious they are a very good basketball team, very powerful and very strong," said Chadwick. "We did everything we could to keep them off the boards, but they had 29 in the first half and 18 more in the second. We had a hard time handling them in the paint. It's been a long time since we haven't blocked a shot in a game. We missed enough free throws to have won the game."

Marshall struggled at the line and from three, shooting just 14-for-26 at the free throw line and only 2-of-12 from three. Overall, MU hit 25-of-58, 43 percent, while Pitt was 25-for-56 for 45 percent shooting. The Panthers had gone 0-for-9 from three and 14-for-30 at the line in Friday's win over Harvard, but corrected that against the Herd, shooting 2-of-8 from three and 18-of-29 from the line. Also scoring in double figures for the Panthers was Shavonte Zellous, who had 18 points in the Marshall game and 32 points for the tournament. She was named to the all-tournament team for Pitt.

Marshall was led by Hammond, who scored 31 points in the tournament, including a team-best 17 today against Pitt. Hammond also had 13 rebounds over two days and was all-tournament, as was Kizzy Hart for the Herd. Hart scored 12 points today, had three rebounds, hit one of Marshall's two three-point shots and added two assists and 2 steals in playing a team-best 37 minutes against the physical Panthers. Harvard's Katie Rollins rounded out the all-tournament team as the Crimson hung on to win the consolation game of the tournament by 69-66 over Jackson State. The Tigers misses a three at the buzzer that would have sent that game to overtime. Harvard improved to 4-3 on the season while the Tigers fell to 2-5 with two losses in the tourney.

Casey Baker came off the Herd bench against Pittsburgh and scored nine points with five steals and two assists, but also turned the ball over four times. Baker is an electric player, but she also averages 4.5 turnovers per game. Handy had eight points to go with her team-best six rebounds. Meg Withrow, who scored 10 in yesterday's win over Jackson State, had seven points, two assists and two steals in starting at the point. Withrow missed all three shots from behind the arc and was just 3-of-8 from the line.

Marshall will not have much time to dwell on the loss, as the Thundering Herd will play at North Texas on Tuesday. MU will have a 10-day break for finals before restarting the season at long-time rival Ohio on Dec. 14, then returning to the Henderson Center for "Jam The Cam" on December 16 against Navy. That will be the final home game in 2007, with East Carolina coming in January 5, 2008 to open Conference USA play against the Herd. Marshall will travel back to the Lone Star State on Dec. 18 to play Texas-Arlington and will play in the Virginia tournament, the Marriott Cavalier Classic on Dec. 28-29. MU meets Missouri out of the Big XII on the 28th, then either UVA or Delaware State on the 29th.

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