Down 36-25, Marshall used stellar defense and timely shooting on its way to a 15-0 run to grab a 40-36 lead on the Eagles (3-2) over the next four minutes. That proved to be the difference as Marshall held on for the five-point victory.0
"I thought it was a defensive struggle all night long. I don't think either team had an A game offensively. I thought our defense kept us in the game in the first half when we struggle mightily from the floor on the offensive end," head coach Royce Chadwick said. "Then in the second half, I thought our defense turned the tide in our direction; we got some key steals and turnovers to change the momentum of the game with our press. We have tried to tweak some things in our defense and I thought our leaders did a great job of making a change in a day in our half court defenses and it really paid us some dividends in the game."
Neither team shot well in the first half. Marshall closed the gap to two points, 18-16, thanks to a Casey Baker jumper and a three from Rashedah Henriques. Morehead State extended the lead to four after a lay-up by Ashley Martin before two Tynikki Crook free throws cut the lead back to two with 7:15 left in the half. From that point on, the half was an absolute defensive struggle, with both teams combining for two points for the rest of the half. The exception was a three by Courtney Lumpkin with 5:18 remaining, which gave MSU a 23-18 lead. That was the score at half as the teams combined to go 0-15 with seven turnovers the rest of the way.
Early in the second half, the Eagles scored eight straight, led by four from Courtney Lumpkin, to extend its lead to 11, 36-25 with 14 minutes remaining. Over the next four minutes, Marshall made the game changing run, scoring 15 in a row to grab a 40-36 lead, its largest of the game. The Herd defense was the story over that run, forcing the Eagles into seven turnovers in four minutes. Baker, Crook and Handy combined to go 6-7 from the free throw line over the run, which was capped off by a Stick Harris trey halfway through the period.
The Eagles did not fold as a Brittany Pittman hit two straight jumpers to tie the game and Tiffanie Stephens followed with a bucket of her own to put the Eagles back in front, 42-40. With 6:34 left in the contest, a shot by Handy knotted the game at 44-44 and sent the Herd on a 9-0 stretch that saw its lead jump to a game high seven points, 51-44, with 1:29 remaining. MSU had one last run left. Following Handy's bucket to give the Herd the seven-point advantage, Tiffany Hamilton hit a three to cut the lead to four. Following Stick Harris' fifth field goal of the game, a Bozeman trey cut the MU lead to just three points, 53-50, with 43 seconds left. A missed jumper 20 seconds later gave Morehead State the ball down three points with under 20 seconds remaining. Marshall did not give Morehead State the chance to even think about shooting a three as Baker committed a quick foul to send the Eagles to the line. Lumpkin made the first to cut the lead to two before missing the second. Handy grabbed the rebound and hit both free throws on the other end to put the game away as the Herd would hold on for the 56-51 victory.
Chantelle Handy led the way for Marshall, tallying a career high 16 points, eclipsing her previous high of 15, which came two seasons ago at Richmond. She grabbed a game high eight rebounds and was a solid 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. Joining Handy in double digits was C-USA Player of the Week Crook, who scored 12 points, her eighth straight game with ten points or more. Harris went 5-of-6 from the floor en route to a 13-points performance. For the first time this season, the Herd lost the rebounding battle as MSU finished with a 44-39 advantage. The Herd's problems in rebounding came mostly on the offense end as MSU grabbed 21 offensive boards, compared to Marshall's total of 11.
The Marshall women are back in action December 2, facing UT-Arlington next Tuesday at 4 p.m. That will be the first game of a doubleheader with the men's team, who will face East Tennessee State at 7:30 p.m. UT-Arlington will face Morehead State on Sunday evening before traveling to Huntington.