BOCA RATON, Florida — All game long, Marshall head coach Tony Kemper knew his team’s defense was good enough to earn a win.
In the fourth quarter, his team got the offense to produce that win.
Marshall’s Savannah Wheeler and Brianah Ferby combined for 26 of the Herd’s 31 points in the final period as the Thundering Herd used a huge run to earn a 66-51 win over Florida Atlantic at FAU Arena in Boca Raton, Florida, on Saturday afternoon.
“I shudder to give compliments because usually they don’t go well once I give them,” Kemper said. “But this group acts like they’re pretty tough and they certainly acted like that in the fourth quarter when we’d played for a long time and, other than Wheeler, we hadn’t really made a shot. It was a slugfest, on the road, this and that. We decided ‘happy plane’ — let’s knock down some shots and get out of here, and they did.”
Wheeler finished with 24 points and seven rebounds while Ferby scored 15 of her season-high 20 points in the final period to lead the Herd to its fifth-straight win.
Ferby’s output was pivotal as Marshall (8-4, 3-0 C-USA) played without second-leading scorer Kennedi Colclough, who missed the game due to injury.
Ferby scored eight straight points — including consecutive 3-pointers that gave Marshall the lead for good — during a 14-3 run over a 4:30 stretch that saw Marshall turn a deficit into a 53-44 lead following C.C. Mays’ 3-pointer with 3:21 left.
“Those two threes that we got her were huge,” Kemper said. “We never really looked back after that.”
In addition to the offensive performances of Wheeler and Ferby, the Herd continued its stellar defensive effort that has led the team to its five consecutive wins.
Florida Atlantic (4-8, 0-1 C-USA) took a 26-23 lead into the locker room after a first half in which six of the team’s nine field goals were 3-pointers.
The Owls carried a three-point advantage into the fourth quarter, but hit just one of their first eight field goals in the final period as Marshall’s defense took over.
Marshall scored 13 points off of turnovers in the fourth quarter and had a 25-6 edge in that category for the game.
“They made shots early and I didn’t think we panicked,” Kemper said. “We stayed pretty good in our defensive principles and, eventually, it broke for us the right way.”
One key for the Herd was shutting down two of the Owls’ better players.
Both Sofia Galeron and Amber Gaston led FAU to an early lead, but neither were scoring factors in the second half. Each finished with 10 points to lead the Owls with Galeron adding 10 rebounds.
With the win, Marshall joins Western Kentucky as the lone 3-0 teams in Conference USA.
The Herd is scheduled to return to the road next week for a weekend in Texas with games on Thursday at North Texas and Saturday at Rice.