WKU topples Herd with late run

Marshall women’s basketball (6-12, 0-5 C-USA) returned to the Cam Henderson Center Sunday afternoon to face Conference USA front-runner Western Kentucky (14-5, 5-1 C-USA). A late surge from WKU curbed the Herd’s comeback, handing Marshall its fifth consecutive loss in C-USA play 86-66.

“Give credit to Western Kentucky, they play for 40 minutes,” head coach Tony Kemper said. “They take advantage when they have it. They’re tough, they’re physical and they were all those things today.”

The Lady Toppers wasted no time on offense, as WKU senior forwards Ivy Brown and Tashia Brown combined for 11 points within the first two and a half minutes of the contest. Marshall was down 11-0 until junior guard Shayna Gore got the scoring started with a triple.

Marshall battled throughout the first quarter, but never took the lead, trailing 23-14 at the end of quarter. Second quarter struggles have been a theme for the Herd thus far in its in-conference schedule, but its defense forced five WKU second quarter turnovers and outscored the Lady Toppers 16-15 in the quarter. The Herd headed into halftime down to Western Kentucky 38-30.

“When (WKU) went to the zone, we had more ball movement,” Gore said. “We were looking for shooters. We handled the pressure well, we’ve just got to be more consistent.”

In the third quarter, Marshall continued to subdue WKU. With 3:26 left in the third quarter, Marshall’s senior forward Talequia Hamilton hit a free-throw to pull the Herd within 4 of the Lady Toppers. Then, the Lady Toppers kicked it into gear.

On her way to scoring a game-high 33, WKU’s Taisha Brown scored 10 points in the last 13 minutes of the game. The Lady Toppers outscored Marshall 26-7 from 2:12 in the third quarter to 6:08 in the fourth quarter, extending WKU’s lead to 23 points (75-52).

“(Brown) is really good and we knew that,” Kemper said. “She has turned herself into a player that is hard to take away. She’s long and she can shoot pull up jumpers. She jumps up and shoots like an NBA player.”

As the Herd dropped its 12th contest on the year, it is still in search of its first CUSA win. Coach Kemper, however, has noticed a positive change in his team.

“We were way more confident today than we were in Norfolk,” Kemper said. “That has to become something that I don’t have to worry about, and right now I worry about it too much.”

Marshall returns to action on Friday when it welcomes Middle Tennessee, for its second of three games in this homestand.

Luke Creasy can be contacted at [email protected]