Herd Falls at Rice in Overtime Heartbreaker, 74-68

Junior Leah Scott

Jan. 18, 2014

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HOUSTON – A game that saw 12 ties and 14 lead changes ended in heartbreaking fashion for Marshall women’s basketball, as it fell in overtime to the Rice Owls, Saturday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.

Following the Herd’s fourth-consecutive loss, Marshall remains winless in Conference USA at 7-10, 0-4. Rice improved to 10-7, 3-1, marking the team’s best-ever start in league play.

Marshall put its eighth starting lineup of the season on the floor, with junior Aja Sorrells (Athens, Ga.) making her first career start. Freshman McKenzie Akers (Princeton, W.Va.) earned her second start, the first being against WVU Tech, Dec. 9. Chelsey Romero (Hampton, Va.) returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 11, versus UAB. Redshirt senior Erica Woods (St. George, Bermuda) and sophomore Norrisha Victrum (Columbia, S.C.) rounded out the starting five.

The first 10 minutes of play saw four ties and six lead changes, and at the 8:15 mark, Sorrells knotted it for the fifth time at 20-20. Rice’s leading scorer, Jessica Kuster, gave the Owls a 22-20 lead on a jumper at 5:01, but Chukwuka Ezeigbo (Trenton, N.J.) quickly answered with a put-back to tie it again at 22. Senior Suporia Dickens (Freeport, Ill.) hit a three to put Marshall back in front, 25-22, but Rice answered again with a three by Maya Hawkins at 2:41. The Herd ended the half on a 5-to-1 run, holding a 30-26 lead at the break.

Rice gained momentum coming out of the half, rolling on an 11-to-2 run to go up, 37-32. However, Marshall’s resiliency tied the game back up at 37 after AJ Johnson’s (Silver Spring, Md.) second three. Ezeigbo put Marshall on top, 39-37, but Hawkins struck again from downtown to make it 40-39 in the Owls’ favor at 13:32. A 7-to-0 Marshall run tied the Herd’s largest lead of the game at 46-40, with 12:18 remaining.

The game’s unpredictability continued as Rice re-gained the lead, 55-53, at 7:50 after Hawkins hit her fifth three and Megan Shafer was fouled while converting a layup. The next five minutes saw two ties and a lead change until two Scott free throws gave Marshall a 65-63 advantage with 1:09 remaining in regulation. An Owl turnover gave the Herd the ball with 0:57 on the clock, but Marshal was unable to convert and ended up fouling Kuster at 0:29. She sunk both to tie the game for the 12th time, at 65-65. A last-shot effort by Johnson fell short, and Marshall found itself in its first overtime period of the season.

Overtime opened with Hawkins sinking her sixth three-pointer of the game, and Kuster followed with back-to-back layups to put Rice up, 72-65. Dickens cut the lead to 72-68 with her third trey, but Kuster struck back with another layup, sealing the score at 74-68 after 45 minutes of play.

Despite being outrebounded, 41-35, the Herd dominated in the paint, with 40 points to Rice’s 22. Scott ended with 18 points, her sixth-consecutive game in double-digits. Dickens and Victrum also finished in double-digits, with 17 and 10 points, respectively.

The last time Marshall went into overtime was last season at Tudor Fieldhouse, when the Herd fell, 71-61 (Feb. 24, 2013). Marshall hasn’t won an overtime game since Dec. 2, 2010, when the Herd defeated George Washington, 64-61, after double overtime.

The Herd’s four-game slump is the longest since ending last season by dropping five consecutive C-USA matchups, including the first round of the conference tournament, from Feb. 24 to March 13, 2013.

Next, after a seven-day break, Marshall return will return home to host Tulsa at Cam Henderson Center, Saturday, Jan. 25, at 1 p.m. ET. For all the latest information about Marshall women’s basketball, follow @HerdWBB on Twitter.