From Marshall Sports Information
For Herd Insider
March 7, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – After leading for the entirety of the first half, poor shooting in the second half took Marshall down in a loss to SMU 53-52 in the first round of the Conference USA tournament on Wednesday.
Marshall ended the season with a 16-14 (7-9 C-USA) record. The 16 wins are the most victories Marshall has posted in a season since 2008-09 when the Thundering Herd went 17-15.
The Herd also lost to No. 10 SMU at the Cam Henderson Center this season, dropping a two-point game to the Mustangs at home.
“Hats off to SMU,” said Marshall head coach Royce Chadwick. “I thought they played very well. They were able to close the game when they needed to.”
Lateidra Elliott was the only Herd player with double-digit points, going 4-for-12 during the game for 10 points. The senior guard also finished with four assists, four steals, and three rebounds.
Alaya Mitchell and her Herd teammates fell in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament to SMU, 53-52, in Memphis, Tenn. at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse on the University of Memphis campus. MU finishes 16-14 on the year, a seven-win improvement from 2010-11. Herd Insider file photo by Greg Perry
Shay Weaver (3-of-14, 2-of-10 from three) and Veronica Ruiz (4-of-11) followed with eight points each. Weaver made a team-high two three-pointers, but recorded her worst three-point percentage of the year after going 2-for-10 (20.0 percent) from behind the arc.
Rashedah Henriques was the Marshall leader in rebounds with six, four of which were on the offensive end. The senior guard also tallied four assists during the contest.
“Our seniors have led our team all year long, and I thought our seniors led us through the tough times and helped us stay focused and gave us an opportunity to close it out there at the end,” said Chadwick.
“I’m still trying to catch my breath after the ending of that game. I might need a little Alka-Seltzer or something. I’ll tell you what, that was a hard fought ballgame by both teams,” said SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola.
“Marshall made a heck of a comeback. We made a couple of mistakes at the end of the game. We had a couple poor decisions with our passes, and it almost cost us.”
The Herd never trailed for the entirety of the first half. Marshall shot 11-for-27 (40.7 percent) in the period, marking the best first half shooting percentage in nine games.
Elliott started the game scoring 10 of Marshall’s 18 points. The senior guard was perfect in the field (4-for-4), three-pointers (1-for-1), and free throw line (1-for-1) in the first eight minutes of play.
She helped Marshall push to its largest lead at 13-6 with just under 15 minutes left in the first half.
Despite the first half lead, Marshall was out-rebounded 18-13 in the first 20 minutes.
The Marshall defense did better, snagging eight steals and forcing 10 SMU turnovers in the first period.
SMU opened up the second half scoring four points in a row and took its first lead of the game at 28-27.
After two lead changes, the Mustangs started to take advantage of Marshall’s poor shooting and took its biggest lead at 35-29 with just over 15 minutes to go. Marshall went 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) in the first nine minutes of the second half.
The Herd responded with a 5-0 run that was topped off by a three-pointer from Weaver to bring the game within one at 41-40 with just over nine minutes left in the game.
The Mustangs led by as many as seven on three occasions over the final 6:35 of the game, and the latest came with 3:35 to play and SMU on top 53-46.
From there, Marshall made things interesting with a Ruiz jumper, a Shay Weaver layup and an Erica Woods basket to make it a one-point game with 35 seconds left in regulation but could get no closer.
Jasmine Shaw snagged a final steal in the closing seconds to set up a final Marshall possession with the Herd trailing 53-52.
Elliott and Ruiz had two opportunities within a couple of feet of the Marshall basket to win the game in the final seconds, but both attempts failed to be the game-winning shot.
“I thought our girls did a really good job on that last defensive possession, because we were switching and denying, and we were trying to get a turnover,” said Chadwick.
“We were going for a foul if we didn’t get it because we had some room before we put them in the bonus. Fortunately for us, we were able to make the steal.
"Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t get into the offense we wanted to run down the stretch.”