Herd women fall to Bobcats in first round of WNIT



Lexi Browning/The Parthenon Marshall’s Norrisha Victrum aims for a two-point shot as the Herd takes on the Bobcats in the postseason WNIT game Thursday in Athens, Ohio.

Marshall University women’s basketball’s survival instinct kicked in Thursday, but the Herd ultimately could not triumph to extend its season falling 76-68 to Ohio University in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Herd (21-11, 9-9) was blitzed in the opening period of action as the Bobcats reeled off a 19-2 run after Marshall forward Leah Scott scored the game’s opening points with a pull-up 3-pointer to take a 19-5 lead into the second quarter.
“My hats off to them defensively as much as offensively with their scheme and ability to adjust and play,” Marshall head coach Matt Daniel said.
Daniel’s squad battled back, however, in the next stanza, utilizing the three ball and flooding the paint to rev up the offense while deploying a 3-2 zone defensively that held Ohio to just four points in the first 5:45 of the quarter.
Junior swingman Kiana Evans woke up the Herd from its offensive hibernation in the second period as she scored the quarter’s first five points when she hit a driving layup and then connected on a catch-and-shoot 3. Evans was relieved of the scoring burden later on by reserve guard Shayna Gore, who connected on a pair of triples to score eight of her 12 points in the second.
The Herd’s inside-outside scoring rebirth resulted in a 27-point quarter to pull within four points heading into intermission.
Following the break, Ohio quickly pushed the lead back out to nine, but Leah Scott, who finished with a team-high 17 points, steadied the Herd offense as she deceived Ohio defenders into myriad fouls to get the Herd back within two.
Then Kiyanna Black happened. Black, who finished with a game-high 32 points and seven 3-pointers, went into heat-check mode as she knocked down three straight treys to push the lead back to double figures.
“She got started early,” Daniel said. “She has the ability to shoot the ball in your face, so you’ve got to get in her space. We didn’t have enough pressure early; she got into a rhythm. When you got good scorers, good shooters, you don’t want them to get un a rhythm early, but she was able to get loose.”
The fourth quarter manifested into a free throw contest as both teams began committing fouls at a premium. The Herd did cut the lead to five with just over two minutes remaining, but couldn’t muster any points for the next minute of game action; a drought that proved insurmountable with the clock dwindling.
Despite the loss, Daniel said he feels the program has increased its pedigree substantially in the past two seasons, and said much of it has to do with the support of Marshall athletics as a whole.
“To our team, it’s been unreal and pretty surreal,” Daniel said. “It still is pretty surreal, everything that we are accomplishing. I think it starts with our administration.”
Brad Heltzel can be contacted at [email protected].