Feb. 10, 2012
EL PASO, Texas - After taking a one point lead at halftime against the top Conference USA team, Marshall was unable to pull off an upset against UTEP and fell 64-56.
The Herd dropped to 13-10 (4-6 C-USA) with the loss, while UTEP stayed unbeaten in league play and improved to 20-2 (10-0 C-USA).
Alaya Mitchell led the Herd in points with 10 and marked a perfect 8-for-8 in free throws, which is the most free throws made by the senior guard in her career.
"I thought our senior leaders did a good job of talking to the team and working through tough times," noted head coach Royce Chadwick. "We had a lull in the second half that doomed us and we couldn't bounce back from that. UTEP is a very good team that does a lot of things to attack you and has great depth. Their depth got to us tonight."
Shay Weaver and Veronica Ruiz each followed Mitchell's effort with eight points. Ruiz's points all came in the final two minutes of the first half.
The Herd went 21-for-51 from the field, combining for a 41.2 percent average. As the top three-point shooting team in the conference, Marshall had trouble shooting from behind the arc and only made 2-of-14 for a 14.3 percent mark.
Marshall struggled from the field to open up the game, missing their first six shots. UTEP took advantage of Marshall's inaccuracy and out-rebounded the Herd 9-1 in the first 11 minutes to take a 12-4 lead.
The Herd responded by taking the lead late in the opening period as Ruiz scored eight points in a row to help the Herd take over at 23-22 with one minute left in the first half.
The Miners went 3-for-3 from the free throw line in the last 45 seconds of the first half to steal back the lead, but Shynisha Johnson nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Marshall a 26-25 advantage going into the locker rooms.
The two teams turned the game into a shoot-out to start the first half, changing the lead nine different times in the opening ten minutes of the second half.
UTEP started to pull away after the 9:00 mark and went on a 10-2 run to take its biggest lead of the game at 62-50 with just under three minutes left in the game. Marshall was unable to respond in the closing minutes and lost 64-56.
UTEP went 11-for-13 (84.6 %) in the second half from the free throw line and used a 13-for-25 (52.0 %) effort from the field to down the Herd. The Miners were led by Kayla Thornton, who recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"They hammered us in the paint," said Chadwick on Thornton and her teammates. "They were going to their post players all night long. We tried a few different things to slow them down, but couldn't. They have a lot of weapons."
Marshall travels to Greenville, N.C. for its next game against East Carolina on Sunday. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 2:00 p.m. ET.