Herd drops close game to Hilltoppers, 80-76

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Herd drops close game to Hilltoppers, 80-76

MU Women's Basketball Game at the Cam Henderson on Feb. 14, 2016. Shot during the second quarter.

MU Women's Basketball Game at the Cam Henderson on Feb. 14, 2016. Shot during the second quarter.

Ryan Fischer

MU Women's Basketball Game at the Cam Henderson on Feb. 14, 2016. Shot during the second quarter.

Ryan Fischer

Ryan Fischer

MU Women's Basketball Game at the Cam Henderson on Feb. 14, 2016. Shot during the second quarter.

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Marshall University’s women’s basketball team could not keep its momentum after three straight conference victories as the team fell Saturday to Western Kentucky University, 80-76.

The Herd drops to .500 against conference opponents.

The Hilltoppers came out strong in the first quarter, shooting 64 percent and ran out to an early 18-9 lead.

However, the Herd closed out the first quarter on an 8-0 run to draw within one point heading into the second quarter.

The Herd struggled to keep its momentum in the following quarter, and Western Kentucky took a 28-19 lead with 7:10 left in the first half.

Marshall closed the gap to five at the end of the first half, largely due to senior Norrisha Victrum’s performance. Victrum scored eight of her 23 points in the second quarter.

With the lead in its hands, Western Kentucky slowed the tempo of the game in the third quarter. Despite the Hilltopper’s strategy, the Herd shot 60 percent from the field in the third quarter with Victrum again leading Marshall in scoring with seven points in the period.

Marshall tied the game for the first time with 4:24 left in the period at 48-all. The Herd and Hilltoppers traded buckets throughout the rest of the quarter.

The two teams ended the quarter tied at 58 as Victrum hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the quarter.

The game remained close in the fourth quarter as the Herd never found itself down by more the five points during the final portion of the game.

Senior Leah Scott scored seven points in the final quarter to lead all Herd scorers.

With the Herd down by four with 31 seconds left in the game, Victrum took a pass from Scott off the rebound from a missed free throw and buried an 18-footer to draw the Herd within two points.

However, the two-point margin was as close as the Herd got to the Hilltoppers. Marshall had a shot to win late, but freshman Shayna Gore missed a layup with 21 seconds remaining.

Head coach Matt Daniel said he felt the team missed an opportunity for a big win and that its execution was poor.

“I felt like we let one get away from us right there,” Daniel said. “I think our execution was not very good on either end of the floor. I think it’s unfortunate [because] we let one get away.”

Victrum said she knows the team has what it takes to beat teams like Western Kentucky.

“I feel like we kind of let one go,” Victrum said. “I mean they’re one of the top teams in the conference, and I feel like we can hang with anybody if we come out and play. So, hopefully, we’re going to see them again in the conference tournament.”

The Herd has yet to defeat The Hilltoppers in the programs’ history.

Marshall hits the road for a two-game road trip starting with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 7 p.m. Thursday at the Dale F. Halton Area.

Jake Griffith can be contacted at [email protected]

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