MU Women Tame Memphis Tigers, 83-73

Royce Chadwick said, in Dickens-like fashion, "Obviously, it was a tale of two halves," following his Thundering Herd women's 83-73 win over the Memphis Tigers Thursday night at the Cam Henderson Center. More to the point, the Herd trailed by 13 at halftime, but opened up the second half on a 19-0 run to take the lead. Eventually, the Herd had a 28-2 run to lead 63-50 at the 10:17 mark.

By that time, a 48-35 Memphis first half advantage had become a 13-point Marshall lead in the Conference USA women's basketball game. "They came out in the first half and lit us up," said Chadwick of the Tigers. Memphis shot 52 percent in the opening half, including hitting 62 percent (8-of-13) from behind the arc, and UM's Paris Leonard scored 21 points to pace the Tiger attack. The Tigers also out-rebounded Marshall 21-14 in the first half. "The Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens, told the story of two men who looked alike, living in London and in Paris at the time of the revolution. Defensively, Marshall started the second-half like they were storming the Bastille.


MU sophomore Alyssa Hammond shot over Memphis guard Paris Leonard in the first half on Thursday evening in Huntington, and helped the Herd to a 83-73 win. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

"But we came out in the second half and really clamped down defensively, and that was the difference in the second half," said Chadwick. "It takes a lot of effort and heart, and I think you can see what a huge factor Tynikki Crook is to our basketball team. Melody Hudson played her best game of the year. Rebecca Bays played her best game of the year."

True freshman center Crook had missed ten days and two games while in Detroit for the funeral of her brother. Returning on Wednesday, Crook led the Herd with nine rebounds and was one of four players in double figures with 16 points, a new career high for the first-year player. "I just wanted to come back and make a contribution," said Crook, who played 21 minutes. Chadwick joked he may have trouble getting Crook to practice the rest of the year, having being away for so many days and having such a good game.

Bays scored a career-best four points on another best, two field goals, and tied her career-high by playing 13 minutes with a rebound and career-high two steals. Hudson, one of three seniors to be honored on Saturday (Meagan Samis and Kizzy Hart are the others), had five points, four rebounds, two assists and a team-best three steals in the contest. Her defense on Memphis' LaToya Bullard held that player to one point against her 10 points per game average.


Herd senior Melody Hudson battled Memphis forward Aroha Jennings for a loose ball in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

"We gave up 48 points in the first half. I don't think they scored very much in the first ten minutes of the half," said Chadwick of the 28-2 run in the first ten minutes of the second half. "We put Kizzy on No. 5 (Leonard) and told her she had 21 in the first half and she couldn't score." Leonard, who hit 7-of-11 shots and 3-of-5 from three for her 21 points in the first half, was held to 3-of-15 and 0-for-2 from three in the second period. All six of those points came late in the contest after the game was well in hand for the Herd.

Chadwick was as happy with the offense as he was with the defense, as the Herd shot 45 percent in the second half and out-rebounded Memphis 32-28. "I don't know if we ever had a team to go on a 28-2 spree here, but this team is capable of doing spectacular things," said Chadwick.

One of those having a spectacular game was junior guard Casey Baker, who just missed a triple-double. Baker had 15 points, a career-best 11 assists and eight rebounds for her second double-double of the season. "We always have confidence. I think instead of trying to have one or two persons bring us back, we stayed together as a team," said Baker of the second half. Of the 11 assists, Baker took the team approach to that statistic. "I just tried to get the ball to the open shooter, and my teammates made the shots." One of those teammates was Chantelle Handy, who scored a season-best 14 points to go with eight rebounds. Hart scored 16 of her team-high 23 points during the second half, hitting 9-of-15 shots in the game including 3-of-7 from three. Alyssa Hammond added six points, five rebounds and two steals in the win.

The Herd, now 14-13 on the season and 6-7 in C-USA, now finds itself in a two-way tie for seventh-place with Tulsa. But, Southern Miss is only one-half game ahead of the Thundering Herd and Golden Hurricane, and the Golden Eagles of USM (6-6, 15-10) host No. 24-ranked UTEP on Friday night in Hattiesburg. The Miners are 12-0 in C-USA, 21-2 overall.

Just one game in front of TU and MU is 7-6 (13-13 overall) East Carolina, who held on to defeat UAB by 85-82, dropping the Blazers into a tie for third with Houston. SMU (20-6, 10-3) jumped into second by topping UH, 80-68, for the Cougars' (14-13, 8-5) fourth-straight loss. As of now, third place through tenth place may not be decided before next weekends final pair of games.


Freshman Tynikki Crook, who came back after missing two games, put up two of her 16 points against Memphis on Thursday night. Crook led the Herd with nine rebounds. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall will have a day to get ready before meeting UAB on Saturday at 5 p.m. That will be game two a men's-women's doubleheader at the Henderson Center, with Donnie Jones' team facing Central Florida at 2 p.m. The women's game can be heard on ESPN 930 AM. After the game, the women's basketball booster club, the Locker Room Club, will host a free reception to honor Hart, Hudson and Samis after they play in their final home game of their careers at Marshall on Senior Day.


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