News Analysis: Marshall Women’s Basketball Looks Ahead After Season Cut Short Due to COVID-19

Looking Back:

On Wednesday, March 11, the No. 8 Marshall Thundering Herd defeated the No. 9 Southern Miss Golden Eagles 71-67 in overtime in the first round of the 2020 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Herd was scheduled to take on the No. 1 Rice Owls in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 12 at 11 a.m. CST/12 p.m. EST. The Herd’s win over the Golden Eagles was, however, the final game the Herd would play as COVID-19 took over the sports world in the following 24 hours.

As the game was approaching, the teams both arrived late to the Ford Center that day, and according to reports neither team had hit the floor at 11:30 a.m.— 30 minutes prior to tipoff.

Players were extremely shocked by this, and according to HD Media’s Grant Traylor’s Twitter account “… in tears coming out of the locker room.”

Marshall’s season was done; the team finished the season 13-17 overall and 8-7 in the conference. The team was preparing to play the number one team in the conference, the Rice Owls, a team the Herd lost to by 38 on Jan. 2. The team on March 12 was so much better than the team in January; this could have been the upset the Herd women’s basketball team was waiting for to jolt it into the spotlight.

Looking Forward:

The team will lose four players from its 2019-2020 team, three who were honored on senior day: Princess Clemons, Brianna Toney and Khadaijia Brooks, but on April 15, redshirt junior forward Ashley Saintigene announced she was transferring to Coastal Carolina for her final season.

This is a huge blow to the Herd, and although Saintigene had missed a lot of time in her Herd career due to injuries, she saw action in 19 of 30 games this past season and she finished with 46 blocks on the season, which is good for sixth all time in a single season in program history.

Not all is bad, as after transferring from Ole Miss and sitting out last season, 6-foot-1 forward Mahogany Matthews will be a help next season. Sitting out last season gave her time to acclimate to Conference USA basketball, and she has huge potential for this team.

The Herd has also added four players for the 2020-2021 season: the first one is guard Cairah “CC” Mays, who signed with the Herd in November out of Tampa, Florida. The other three are new signees who signed on April 16: Kennedi Colclough, Ksenija Mitric and Aarionna Redman.

Colclough, a Huntington native and graduate transfer from Stetson is a 6’0 forward from Crofton, Maryland and was an all-state player and four-year varsity starter at Arundel High School.

Mitric, a 5’8 guard from Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, helped lead the Celje basketball club to the Slovenian championship in the under-17 and under-19 divisions in 2018 and a runner-up finish in 2019, when she led her league in assists.

Redman, a 5’10 forward from Pickerington, Ohio, helped lead Pickerington Central to a state title as a sophomore and state runner-up finishes in her junior and senior seasons.

Adding that with the return of seniors Kristen Mayo and Taylor Pearson, junior forward Lorelei Roper and Kia Sivils and sophomores Savannah Wheeler and Paige Shy, among other players, the Herd is poised to a run next season when it gets back on the court.

Spencer DuPuis can be contacted at [email protected].