March 1, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Maybe it’s no surprise that to Marshall women’s basketball Coach Matt Daniel, no shot is a bad shot, as long as it’s an open shot.
After all, as a college senior in 1997-98 at Division II Harding, Daniel made 44 percent of his shots behind the 3-point arc.
And while that concept he’s still drumming into his players’ heads hasn’t paid off as handsomely as the first-year MU coach might like, as the season nears its end it does give the Thundering Herd another positive on which to build.
While Marshall struggled with Southern Miss’ trapping defense in Thursday night’s 68-61 loss at the Henderson center, the positive takeaway was the shooting. The Herd’s 45.1 field goal percentage was its best since hitting 47.7 in a Dec. 1 win over Presbyterian on Dec. 1 at Richmond, Ky.
Bigger still was the 3-point marksmanship.
The Herd hit 12-of-27 behind the arc (11-of-24 inside). The 12 are the most 3-point goals for a Marshall team since 12 against Kent State in an 80-71 Henderson Center loss on Feb. 24, 2001. The dozen were also one shy of the arena mark – 13 by UAB in an 85-84 Herd double-overtime win in January 2010.
The Herd’s single-game team record for threes is 14 and came at a neutral site – the Charleston Civic Center – in an 87-72 victory over West Virginia on Jan. 18, 1995.
Marshall (9-18, 3-11) entertains UCF (12-16, 6-8) on Sunday at 2 p.m., when Leandra King and Veronica Ruiz will be honored on their Senior Day in the home finale. And in that game, sophomore guard Shay Weaver will be shooting for something special, too.
Weaver, who had five-3 pointers in Thursday’s loss, has 66 for the season. She needs two more to tie the season record of 68 set by Kizzy Hart
“I knew that, and I’m really excited about it,” said the 5-foot-9 Weaver, whose 106 threes rank fifth on MU’s career list, in a tie with Kristi Huff (1988-92).
Marshall, which will play in the 5-12 seed game March 13 in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., finishes the regular season next Thursday night at Memphis, so Weaver has at least three more games to go after Hart’s single-season record.
Another mark Weaver would like to reach – but one she has found elusive – is the Herd record of six 3-pointers in a game. Hart (against Houston in 2008) and Nadal Rosko (versus Eastern Kentucky in 1994) share that one.
Weaver’s five 3’s Thursday night marked the fifth time in her two MU seasons she’s reached that number. She got her fifth against Southern Miss with 13:41 to play, when the Golden Eagles decided to start chasing Weaver and guarding her tight 25 feet from the basket … and what had been a 43-42 MU lead with her fifth began to melt.
“I don’t really keep track during a game on how many I have,” Weaver said. “After two, I lose track of how many … As long as I don’t think about it (the game record of six), I’m fine. When I think about it, it’s tough.”
The Herd has a C-USA-leading 161 threes this season. Weaver wondered if that were perhaps a school record. It’s not.
The 1996-97 Southern Conference champion Herd coached by Sarah Evans-Moore – the only Marshall women’s hoops team to reach an NCAA Tournament – made 187 threes. The current Herd’s 161 are the most since then, however.
There is another number that Weaver says has hurt the Herd significantly this season, however, and one she said must change in future seasons.
“Turnovers (19 against Southern Miss) really hurt us, because those lead to points, and we have to stop fouling,” said the Texan, who leads the Herd in scoring at 9.6 points per game. “That’s where it goes from us being even to them having an advantage.”
The Herd is minus-99 in turnovers to its opponents in 27 games.
“Turnovers (nearly 18 per game) get into our heads, and we think about the last play instead of just going and playing defense,” Weaver said. “We’re thinking about the last turnover, and then we let the other team score.”
Weaver’s 66 threes rank second in C-USA to the 73 by Tanecka Carey of Southern Miss, who was 3-of-11 behind the arc in the win over the Herd. The Marshall sophomore knows the Herd must do more than shoot its way to success under Daniel, however.
“When we keep coming up short, it kind of takes the fun away from it,” Weaver said. “With a new coach, it’s been a big transition and adjustment, and I think we’re adjusting pretty well. We just have to keep pushing.
“It’s been a hard year for us, losing games like we have, but I think we’re going to start having good years starting next season.”