WVU women beat Herd again
CHARLESTON -- Marshall's effort was there, but execution was not as West Virginia's women's basketball team earned a 64-48 win over the Thundering Herd in front of 2,606 spectators Tuesday in the Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Thundering Herd ended the contest with 26 turnovers to build a deficit it could not overcome as the Mountaineers claimed their eighth straight victory in the in-state rivalry contest.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game both ways," Marshall head coach Matt Daniel said. "They are certainly more talented than we are right now, but we are working diligently to put ourselves in a situation to be able to compete night in and night out with people of that level."
In spite of the 26 turnovers and a 5-of-17 shooting performance at the foul line, the Herd used grit and hard work to keep the contest close.
West Virginia built its lead to 19 following a 3-point play by Crystal Leary with 11:40 left, but the Herd answered right back with a 10-3 run to cut it back to 12.
Marshall (4-4) couldn't get the lead under single digits, but the effort of the out-manned Herd to keep the game from becoming a blowout certainly caught the attention of West Virginia coach Mike Carey.
"Marshall played harder than we did," Carey said. "Loose balls on the floor, they went down and got them. We stood around and watched."
The Mountaineers were keyed by their bench. Bria Holmes, who was named as the Most Outstanding Player for West Virginia, led the team with 15 points while Leary added 12 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Center Ayana Dunning also had 13 points for West Virginia (5-2) but was plagued with foul trouble throughout the contest as Marshall's post players went to work down low.
For the Herd, Leandra King finished with 10 points and six rebounds to earn team Most Outstanding Player honors. Five of her six rebounds were on the offensive end as she battled down low with Dunning.
King said the game's scrappy nature helped her to be assertive in the paint.
"You get more comfortable making moves," King said.
King outworked a West Virginia rebounder for a basket that brought the Herd within 18-17 with 8:31 left in the half after the Mountaineers had jumped out to a 14-2 lead early.
"I am happy to see the fight in us, and I think over the last three halves of basketball - the second half of Presbyterian and tonight's two halves - we've looked more like a basketball team, as opposed to just out there," Daniel said.
After Marshall cut the deficit to one, Holmes took over in the late stages of the first half, scoring the final eight points that included a pair of long-range jumpers in the final 40 seconds to push the lead to 35-23 at the break.
The game featured 46 total turnovers -- 26 for Marshall, 20 for West Virginia -- but the difference was converting those turnovers into points. The Mountaineers held a 33-12 edge in points off turnovers.
Marshall returns to action at 1 p.m., Saturday, with a road contest at Southern Illinois.