@HerdWBB, 49ers Headed for First-Round Clash
Tip time is 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The 12th-seeded Marshall women's basketball team (13-16 overall, 5-13 Conference USA) faces fifth-seeded Charlotte (20-12, 12-6) Wednesday for a 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT contest in Bartow Arena in first-round action at the Conference USA Tournament.
Marshall sophomore guard Shayna Gore and freshman Ashley Saintigene were honored Sunday by the Conference USA women's basketball coaches and media in the league's postseason awards. Gore was named second-team all-conference, while Saintigene was named to the conference's all-freshman team.
Gore, a Logan, W.Va. native, finished the regular season tied for fifth in the league in 3-pointers per game (2.3), seventh in 3-point percentage (37.2), eighth in scoring (17.2), ninth in steals (1.8) and 13th in free throw percentage (76.4).
Her 67 3-pointers currently stand as the fourth-highest single-season total in program history and her 118 career long-range shots rank sixth all-time. Her 499 points in 2016-17 are currently the ninth-highest single-season total.
Gore is Marshall's sixth second-team All-C-USA selection, following second-team picks Sikeetha Shepard-Hall (2006), Modupe Ishola (2007), Tynikki Crook (2011), Chukwuka Ezeigbo and Leah Scott (2015).
Saintigene, a Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. native, is Marshall's third C-USA all-freshman selection, following Alyssa Hammond (2007) and Shay Weaver (2012). She finished the regular season fifth in the league in blocked shots (1.5), sixth in offensive rebounds (3.0) and 16th in rebounding (6.1).
HERD IN THE C-USA TOURNAMENT
Marshall is 8-11 in the Conference USA Tournament and has advanced as far as the semifinals three times (2008, 2009, 2016). It has had one all-tournament honoree, Tynikki Crook in 2008 and 2009. It has met Charlotte just once in this tournament, a 67-52 loss in the first round as a nine seed in 2015. The last time Marshall entered as a 12 seed was 2013, when it dropped a 70-59 decision to fifth-seeded UTEP.
The 49ers come into Wednesday's game winners of three in a row after dropping four straight. They are led by Grace Hunter's 17.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest. Lefty Webster and Laia Raventos have combined for 281 of the team's 487 assists and 134 of the squad's 258 steals. Nyilah Jamison-Myers has a league-high 57 blocks. Ciara Gregory has a league-high 96 3-pointers and leads the team with an 86.2 percent clip from the fre throw line.
The 49ers lead the league in blocked shots per game (5.9) and assists (16.8). In league-only games, they were the highest-scoring team with 77.5 points per game as well.
LAST TIME OUT
Visiting Charlotte made at least 50 percent of its shots in all four quarters to claim an 89-75 win over host Marshall February 25 at the Cam Henderson Center.
The win snapped a four-game slide for the 49ers, who improved to 18-9 and 10-6 in Conference USA, while Marshall dropped its eighth straight to fall to 12-15 and 4-12 in the league.
Charlotte put all five of its starters in double figures, an effort led by Grace Hunter's double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Lefty Webster (7-for-10 shooting) had a team-high 17 points, while Amaya Ranson added 13 (5-for-5 on FGs, 3-for-3 on 3-pointers), Nyilah Jamison-Myers posted 12 and Ciara Gregory added 10. Laia Raventos added five assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes off the bench.
Marshall was powered by 20 points and nine rebounds from Kiana Evans, to go with Talequia Hamilton's 19 points and eight caroms. Shayna Gore added 17 points. Reserve Tana Driver posted a season-high four assists in nine minutes of action and Taylor Porter swiped three steals in the first half.
Gore (7-for-7) and Hamilton (5-for-5) were perfect at the free throw line to lead an 81.8 percent effort (18-for-22) by the Thundering Herd, the third consecutive game that the team has shot at least 72 percent from the charity stripe.
The 49ers held big advantages in paint points (46-32) and off the bench (23-9). They also won the rebounding battle 48-35, which helped fuel a 17-9 edge in second chance points.
The Thundering Herd fought to stay within five (22-17) after one quarter of play, despite making just one of its first 11 3-pointers. It also took a 13-point 49er advantage down to seven (42-35) by scoring 11 of the final 16 points of the first half.
Marshall chopped Charlotte's lead to five (49-44) on a layup by Evans with 6:35 left in the third quarter but the 49ers were too tough down the stretch. They took a 16-point bulge (69-53) lead into the fourth quarter after a buzzer-beating Ransom triple.
The Thundering Herd got no closer than eight in the final quarter.
The 3-point line was a big factor in the game as the 49ers converted eight of their 18 attempts (44.4 percent), while Marshall struggled to a 21.9 percent (7-for-32) showing.
The 49ers have won nine of 10 meetings, all-time, between the two schools.
Hamilton had one block in the game (87 career), tying her for seventh on the all-time Marshall list with Lisa Pruner (1980-84). McKenzie Akers made two more 3-pointers to give her 130 for her career, one shy of Cindy McCauley's (1994-98) third-place mark in the school's all-time records. Meanwhile, Gore made two as well (113 career) to pull her within two of former teammate Norrisha Victrum (2012-16) for seventh.
Akers, Evans, Hamilton and Maddie Morris were honored in a pregame ceremony.
MARSHALL IN CONFERENCE USA
The Thundering Herd leads C-USA (all games) in:
3-Point Field Goals Made: 8.0
Logan Fraley had a career-high three steals in the 60-57 win over North Texas.
CHARITY STRIPE UPTICK
The Thundering Herd has significantly improved its free throw shooting over the last five contests, connecting on 76.1 percent (86-for-113). In the previous 24 games, Marshall shot just 63.1 percent (292-for-463). The biggest leap in that area has come from Talequia Hamilton (57.5 percent to 89.7 percent).
Logan Fraley (2nd, 37.3) is currently in the school's top 10 in career 3-point percentage. Meanwhile, Shayna Gore (67) is fourth in Marshall's single-season 3-point records. AJ Johnson (72, 2014-15) holds that all-time mark).
Hamilton has been extremely durable and dependable during her season and a half with the program. Not only has she played in all 62 of Marshall's games during that period, but she has started all of them as well. She has been especially effective of late, registering double-figure scoring in 13 of her last 17 games. In league games, she is tied for first overall at 2.0 blocks per outing. Hamilton's one rejection at Rice gave her 89 for her career and sole possession of seventh-place mark in the school's all-time records. In single-season blocks, her 51 this season is fourth in school history.
This year's Thundering Herd is on pace (or nearly so, in some cases) to set its best marks under head coach Matt Daniel. Currently, they are:
71.9 points per game (70.5 in 2015-16)
42.6 field goal percentage (42.6 percentage in 2015-16)
8.0 3-pointers per game (6.6 in 2015-16)
32.4 3-point field goal percentage (31.5 percentage in 2014-15)
13.0 offensive rebounds (12.7 in 2013-14)
39.4 rebounds (38.4 in 2013-14)
4.8 blocks (4.4 in 2013-14)
2.1 blocks allowed (2.2 in 2012-13)
AKERS GOES LONG
Marshall junior McKenzie Akers is third in the school's record book with 134 3-pointers after passing Cindy McCauley (131, 1994-98). Natal Rosko in second (136, 1994-98) and Sikeetha Shepard-Hall (146, 2002-06) is the all-time leader.
Dating back to last season, Marshall has won 19 straight games when allowing 68 points or less (L at Middle Tennessee, 65-54, 1/28/16).
FRESHMAN INSIDE FORCE
Freshman forward Ashley Saintigene has been a force around the paint. Saintigene is fifth in Conference USA with 1.5 blocks per contest, while ranking sixth in offensive rebounds (3.0). She is also third on the team in rebounding at 6.1 per game. All of those stats have been accrued in just 15.3 minutes per game. The Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., native was named Conference USA Freshman of the Week Dec. 12, Dec. 23 and Jan. 3.
KB WORKS GLASS, ARC
Sophomore forward Khadaijia Brooks had been working the interior and the arc for Marshall before missing the last seven games due to injury. Brooks is one of the team's leading rebounders with 6.5 caroms per game. She has recorded at least five boards in all but five contests and grabbed a career-high 12 against Maine-Fort Kent, when she also posted a career-high 22 points. She recorded back-to-back double-doubles at Charlotte (12 points, 10 rebounds) and versus Middle Tennessee (11 points, 10 rebounds). She has also greatly improved her 3-point shooting in 2016-17. Last season, she made just one of six attempts (16.7). This season, that figure is 35.1 percent (20-for-57). She went 4-for-4 against Maine-Fort Kent, but then made just one of her next 13 attempts over her next four games. She has since rebounded to connect on 10 of her last 17 long-range shots in her last five contests.
The Herd has more blocks than the opposition (or as many as) in all but three games (at North Carolina, at UTEP, vs. Old Dominion). Marshall recorded 10 blocks in the season debut at Illinois and followed that with 11 swats versus FIU on Dec. 30. Against the Fighting Illini, redshirt-senior Talequia Hamilton led Marshall with a career-high five rejections. Freshman Ashley Saintigene had three blocks in her Herd debut (all coming in the second quarter).