MCGILL: @HerdWBB Seniors Shoulder Load ... More Weight Awaits
The Word on the Herd -- Nov. 17, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The sequence happened in a three-possession, 37-second span, and it showcased what the two seniors on the Marshall women’s basketball team can do.
First, Kiana Evans knifed through the Florida A&M defense and contorted her body on the left side of the hoop before finishing with her left hand.
“That was pretty, wasn’t it?” MU coach Matt Daniel said.
On the other end, Evans’ fellow senior, Talequia Hamilton, blocked a shot, and the loose ball was corralled by Evans. The ball found its way on the other end to Hamilton, who drove to the right side of the basket and finished strong with a layup.
Florida A&M called a timeout to try and stop the momentum, but the Thundering Herd’s two seniors had already decided this one. It was a dominant fourth quarter by the duo from Huntington High School.
In the fourth quarter alone, Evans and Hamilton combined to shoot 8 for 8 with 23 of the team’s 28 points. Those two scored 23 of the Herd’s first 25 points in the quarter, and together flipped a 3-point deficit after three periods to a lead as large as 12 points with 43 seconds left.
That’s not all. Evans and Hamilton combined for five of the team’s nine rebounds in the fourth quarter, recorded the only two blocks (one apiece) and two of four steals. Hamilton was 5 for 5, made her only 3-point attempt and her only free throw attempt (to complete an old-fashioned 3-point play).
“I just worked my angles and tried to find the open spot and get to the basket,” Hamilton said. “In the first half I was 2 for 5; I couldn’t make a layup to save my life.”
Evans was 3 for 3 in the fourth quarter, banked her only 3-pointer and made all four of her free throws.
“They were really guarding Shayna (Gore) hard so it was more open for me to drive,” Evans said.
Still, Daniel made it clear he wants to strive for 40 minutes of that kind of performance.
“From tipoff to buzzer, not just down the stretch,” he said. “In practice after they feel like they won but they know the coach isn’t happy. What I expect for them is to lead just like they did at the end of the ballgame.”
Daniel, sitting in between his seniors, then looked to his right and left and smiled: “Y’all got that?”
The numbers were unprecedented for Daniel’s seniors. Hamilton scored a career-high 26 points, including 22 after intermission. The Herd had trailed Florida A&M by 4 points at the break. She made a career high 11 field goals on 17 attempts, and she made all three of her free throws. Evans also set a career high with 19 points, and then filled up the stat sheet with eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal.
“I think we can be really good basketball team but we’re really young,” Daniel said. “I think there are going to be ups and down. I think we’re pressing a little bit. I think we’re as deep as we’ve ever been, so I think people are competing for minutes more than they’ve ever been, and that causes you to try and do more. I think we’ve got to let it come.”
Marshall (2-0) hosts Coastal Carolina this Saturday at 1 p.m. as part of an afternoon-evening doubleheader with the men’s team. The Thundering Herd men host Western Carolina on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The Herd women are undefeated with a win at Illinois to open the season. Marshall avoided a letdown by surviving the visit from Florida A&M, a game in which the lead changed hands 16 times and was tied nine times.
Daniel wants to see more as his team works through the non-conference portion of the schedule – and it starts with his seniors.
“I want our body language to be better and I want to feel better about the process,” Daniel said. “I just want to play better basketball; I want to play more disciplined.”