Marshall was even better from the three-point line in the game, hitting six of nine shots, while 10 of 12 players for the Herd scored or grabbed a rebound. The Herd was led with 15 points by both freshman center Tynikki Crook and senior guard Kizzy Hart, the reigning C-USA Player of the Week for her All-Tournament performance at the Virginia tournament last week. "I think today we showed Conference USA we are a team to look out for," said Hart of the Herd, picked ninth in the pre-season C-USA rankings.
Chipping in 10 points each was senior guard Alix Barnett and junior guard Meg Withrow. Casey Baker had eight points and two rebounds, but added six assists, three steals and a block from the two-guard. Crook led the Herd with eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Chantelle Handy had six rebounds and six points. Sophomore forward Alyssa Hammond added nine points and five boards, while senior Megan Samis had five points and seven boards in a balanced Herd attack.
Marshall's Tynikki Crook grabbed this rebound during the first half of Marshall's 81-55 win over East Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Huntington. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
"I thought our defensive intensity was good in the second half, and our crowd was loud and helped get us going early," said Head Coach Royce Chadwick of the nearly 1,000 fans who remained after the men's overtime win over Winthrop. "I thought we had some people who took the scouting report to the game and I thought Casey was very good at the start of the game on defense. I thought Kizzy was good on defense at the start of the game and that set the tone for us. Hopefully, our defense got some confidence from that and we are better than we were before the game." The Herd had a five-point lead just just six minute into the game, and stretched that to 20 points at the 5:54 mark, 31-11, before ending the half up 44-21.
Marshall held the Pirates to 19-of-58 shooting (32.8 percent), but an even better 31 percent in the second half. ECU was shooting 42 percent for the year. The Herd also held C-USA Player of the Year candidate Jasmine Young to just six points on her 14 points per game average, after scoring 25 on the Herd last year in the Henderson Center. "We obviously caught them on a poor shooting night," said Chadwick of East Carolina, who was without junior guard Impris Manning. Manning was suspeded indefinitely due to violation of team rules, and was averaging 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and had four points and six rebounds in ECU's win at home last season over the Herd.
East Carolina cut the lead to start the second half to 46-27, hitting two threes in the first minute and one-half, but the Herd answered the challenge by running the lead out to 66-37 with 11:12 to play. The Pirates were never closer than 23 down the rest of the game, despite hitting 6-of-15 threes (40 percent) in the second half. Marshall knocked down 10-of-16 at the free throw line in the second half and was 17-for-29 (59 percent) for the game. MU had a 43-40 edge on the boards, out-scored ECU inside 36-to-12 and scored 31 points off 21 Pirate turnovers, while keeping the Herd turnovers down to 13 on a season average of 17.5 per game.
Chadwick was happy to get win number one, but cautioned the Herd will have a tough road to play on. "We've been very fortunate to win here. We have to go to East Carolina however, and we have to go to Memphis and UAB this week, so winning the first one is big. We have played the toughest schedule my team has ever faced," said Chadwick of a schedule that has seen the Herd play just four home games in the first 14, including an 0-3 start in the Pre-season WNIT. "Tynikki Crook was playing high school basketball (last year), and she has gotten better and better and better. Kizzy Hart had not played a Division I game, Casey Baker had not played a Division I game when the season started. We have gotten better since day one and are getting better each game. We've got to go to Memphis now and try to get a win there. It doesn't matter what their record is, everybody comes to play, no matter what the record." Memphis fell to
With the wins, Marshall's men's and women's teams maintain the winning records they took from the 2007 portion of the schedule into 2008's first game. It is the first time both of the MU teams, men's (8-4) and women's (9-5, 1-0), have had winning records entering a new year since the 1994-95 seasons at Marshall, and the women's team is enjoying its success as well as the men's. "I can't tell you how happy I am for Donnie, and Markel, they are playing really good," said Chadwick of men's coach Donnie Jones and junior forward Markel Humphrey. "The things they accomplished down the stretch (today) took mental toughness, and that can help my girls. They can watch and say, 'Man, look how hard they're playing,' and we are glad to be holding up our end. We hope to keep winning."
The women's team will play at Memphis (3-10, following a 71-68 OT loss at home to Toledo on Friday) on Thursday night, Jan. 10, then travel to UAB on Saturday. The Blazers host Memphis Sunday, and fell to 4-9 after losing to Mississippi State Thurday night, 79-69. The Herd returns home on Jan. 18 for Tulsa, a 7 p.m. Friday night game, and then hosts SMU on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m. The next doubleheader is the annual Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic with West Virginia. The women's game tips at 5:30 p.m., the men at 8 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Charleston Civic Center.