Herd women’s basketball splits with Rice, earns big win


Zachary Hiser

Marshall women’s basketball player, #20 Taylor Pearson

Splitting a two-game series with Rice, the Marshall women’s basketball team earned a big win on Sunday at the Cam Henderson Center, handing Rice its first conference loss of the season.

Rice (13-2, 9-1) fell for only the second time all year, with its lone defeat prior to Sunday’s blemish coming to No. 5 Texas A&M. On its senior day, Marshall (6-8, 5-7) won what senior forward Taylor Pearson said was the biggest win of the season.

“We did everything that we needed to do,” Pearson said. “But the season’s not over, we still have some games left, so it’s really good momentum going into the next couple games we have to play.”

The 68-56 win against the Owls was not only a substantive win on its own but also a needed bounce back performance after losing the day prior, 64-48.

Rice was ready to play from start to finish in game one Saturday, making a statement early in the game by outscoring Marshall 15-5 in the first quarter and holding the Herd to 12.5% shooting.

Rice had a large lead heading into halftime, 33-15, and even though the Herd would end up winning the second half 33-31, the first half deficit proved too big to overcome.

Sophomore guard Savannah Wheeler said that getting into foul trouble was a momentum killer for the Herd.

“It is really good to go in, crash boards, beat up on people,” Wheeler said, “but you have got to be smart about it.”

Senior guard Kristen Mayo led the Herd in scoring, putting up 15 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Sophomore forward Lauren Schwartz led all scorers, scoring 18 points while also grabbing six rebounds. Senior center Nancy Mulkey also played a factor in the win, scoring 14 points, pulling down four rebounds and blocking three shots.

Heading into game two, Marshall needed to get off to a better start in order to keep up with the Owls, and the Herd did just that. At the 4:58 mark in the 1st quarter, the Herd led the Owls 13-6.

Rice made a strong 21-3 run, taking a 27-16. That would end up being the Owls’ biggest lead of the game, as the Herd slowly cut into the lead and ultimately took it away.

The fourth quarter was the difference; the Herd outscored the Owls 23-4.

The key moment of the game came at the 3:53 mark of the fourth quarter when the Herd went on an 18-0 run and emerged victorious.

Head coach Tony Kemper said that playing great defense towards the end of the game was the key to victory.

“(We) got tons of stops towards the end,” Kemper said. “I thought we were physical without fouling finally — which I’ve been really on our team about that.”

Savannah Wheeler bounced back from a seven-point performance in game one and led the Herd in points, scoring 25. She also grabbed three rebounds, dished out four assists and shot 7-13 from the field (4-6 from three-point range). She was a perfect 7-7 at the free-throw line.

Three other Marshall players scored in the double digits: Kennedi Colclough (14), Kristen Mayo (10) and senior forward Taylor Pearson (10).

Nancy Mulkey led the Rice Owls in scoring, putting up 15 points. She also grabbed nine rebounds.

Two other Owls scored in double figures: Lauren Schwartz (14) and senior guard Sydne Wiggins (12).

The Marshall WBB team hopes to travel to Denton, Texas to take on the North Texas Mean Green next weekend. The games are scheduled for Friday, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Noah Hickman can be contacted at [email protected].