The Golden Eagles (13-7, 6-1 C-USA) were outscored by the Herd, 22-8, in the first eight minutes of the second half. Marshall grabbed its first lead since the opening minute with 3:30 left in the game, but a late three and four made free throws put USM on top for good. Southern Miss dominated the first half.
MU's Alyssa Hammond kept the Herd in the game, scoring nine straight Marshall points as the Herd would close the lead to as few as five points, 22-17, with six minutes remaining in the half. But, a 17-5 run by the Eagles to finish the half made it a 39-22 game in favor of USM at halftime.
The Herd regrouped at the half and opened the second stanza on a 10-2 run. Eight straight points by Casey Baker, including two straight three-point shots, brought the Herd back within 11, 41-30. Marshall continued to keep the pressure on, chopping the lead to three, 47-44 eight minutes into the second half following a steal and layup by Rashedah Henriques. With that basket, the Herd matched its number of points from the first half.
With 6:20 remaining in the game, a jumper by Chantelle Handy knotted the game at 51-51, the first tie since the game was 4-4 in the opening minutes. A three by USM's Tanesha Washington put the Golden Eagles back on top, 54-51, but Alix Barnette hit a trey on the next trip down the floor to tie it back up. Washington struck right back for USM, hitting her second straight three-pointer to take the lead right back.
After a bucket by Crook and a foul, she had a chance to tie the game at 59, but missed the shot. Handy grabbed the board and a Hammond shot put MU up 60-59, its first lead since 2-0. The lead was swapped back-and-forth, and with 1:59 left, a Crook shot put MU up 64-63. On the next trip down the floor, a three by Kendra Reed proved to be the difference, putting the Golden Eagles up for good. They hit four late free throws to clinch the 70-64 win.
Along with her 20 points, Crook had seven rebounds. Baker scored 13 second-half points and finished with 16 points in the game, and added six assists. Hammond finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Washington led all scorers with 21 points for the Golden Eagles, on 7-of-12 shooting. Kendra Reed scored 12 points. USM's Pauline Love, who had a double-double in the previous nine contests entering the game, was held to ten points and five rebounds by the Herd defense.
Marshall won the rebounding by two, 34-32, after being out-rebounded by eight in the first half. The Golden Eagles finished with the shooting advantage, shooting 49 percent to the Herd's 43 percent from the floor.
The Herd was forced to play without head coach Royce Chadwick, who got a phone call two hours before tipoff about an NCAA ruling on a paperwork issue from October that detailed a player's eligibility. The paper was not filled out correctly and Chadwick's signature was on the document. "I didn't go back and make sure everything was filled out properly," Chadwick told The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch. "They called me and said I had to set out a game."
Associate head coach Roxanne White coached the team. Chadwick should be back at his post for Saturday's game at UCF for the Herd.