HUNTINGTON — With 1:55 left in the first quarter, Marshall University women’s basketball coach Tony Kemper relaxed.
A 23-0 lead will do that.
“It knocked a little of the nerves off me, for sure,” Kemper said.
The Thundering Herd (1-0) pounded Kentucky Christian 89-40 in front of 733 spectators Tuesday night at Cam Henderson Center.
Taylor Pearson, a 5-foot-7 junior forward from Columbus, hit two 3-pointers and drove the lane for a basket in scoring the first eight points of a game that Marshall dominated in nearly every area, despite a roster featuring five freshmen and a junior college transfer.
“It was motivation from last season,” Pearson said of her quick start. “There are some things I needed to improve on. I kind of take that role upon my self to bring the team up, bring the energy. We never really played with each other, so it was relieving to start that way.”
The Herd let down a bit in the next 11 minutes, as the Knights (2-2) matched Marshall 17-17 to make it 40-17 at halftime. Kemper was not pleased with that.
“I thought we played a lot harder in the second half,” Kemper said. “We played hard early. In the second quarter, I wasn’t real happy with that. In the second half, we got back to where I want us to be in the effort column.”
Kentucky Christian, located in Grayson struggled with a pair of Marshall players from the Knights’ back yard. Kristen Mayo, who is from Grayson and played at East Carter High School, led the Herd with 19 points, five steals and three assists. Savannah Wheeler, a freshman from Boyd County High in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, scored 18 points on 6 for 9 shooting, made four steals and issued three assists.
“It’s nice because a lot of the town gets to come up and see a game they normally might not come to see,” Mayo said. “It was nice to play somebody besides ourselves.”
The Knights pulled within 42-24 with 7:23 left in the third quarter, thanks to a seven-point outburst by former Lewis County (Kentucky) star Savannah Anderson, but Marshall outscored Kentucky Christian 47-16 the rest of the way.
The Herd blended well the veterans and newcomers. Person finished with 12 points and a team-high five assists. Senior forward Khadaijia Brooks scored 11 points and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds. Junior college transfer and former Huntington High star Dazha Congleton scored eight points, snared six rebounds and made five steals.
“It’s good to be 1-0,” Kemper said. “It’s good to start the year with a win. It’s good to do it here at home. We have a lot of room to get better. That showed up. We have a group that will go to work to get better.”
Anna Keeton, a 5-6 freshman guard from Paintsville, Kentucky, led Kentucky Christian with 12 points. Anderson and Hannah Blakley, a 5-9 freshman transfer from Indiana East, each scored 11. Anderson also pulled down nine rebounds.
Marshall returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday when it entertains Norfolk State (0-1), which lost to Liberty 67-48 on Tuesday. The Knights are at home vs. Montreat College (0-1) at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.