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Herd’s 8th-Straight Loss Puts Damper On Senior Day Against Charlotte

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HUNTINGTON — Marshall women’s basketball coach Matt Daniel is at a loss for what it will take for his team to break its current 8-game losing streak. It was extended today in an 89-75 loss to visiting Charlotte at the Cam Henderson Center, putting a damper on the celebration of three Herd seniors in their last game at home — an all-304 (W.Va.’s area code) day for seniors Talequia Hamilton (who is hoping to get a sixth year from the NCAA) and Kiana Evans — both from Huntington and former HHS Highlanders — and Princeton, W.Va., native McKenzie Akers all played in their final game at home.

They, along with sophomore Madison Morris — another Huntington product who played at Spring Valley HS in the Wayne County area of Huntington — were all honored in the pre-game with their families with them. Injuries to their knees have moved Morris (a pair of ACL tears in two years) and Akers (an ACL that made her sit out last year) to leave with eligibility in their pockets due to the painful nature of playing basketball with those injuries.

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, Kiana Evans scores 2 of her 20 vs. Jaida Robinson

Kiana Evans drives for two of her game-best 20 points, shooting over Charlotte’s Jaida Robinson in the Herd’s loss to the 49ers, 89-75, as Ashley Saintigene moves in for possible rebound. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

Evans led the Herd with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a steal, Hamilton had 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal and Akers had eight points, four rebounds, and assist and a steal. Shayna Gore, another 304-player from Logan, W.Va., scored 17 points with two boards, an assist and a steal.

For Marshall, it will have to see how a game goes tonight between UTEP (who was tied with the Herd for 11th place at 4-11) and FIU (one game back of the Herd and the Miners at 3-12) to see if Marshall is still in line for a berth to the Conference USA Tournament in 11 days at Birmingham, Ala. Right now, Florida Atlantic is 0-15 and last in the league, and for Marshall a UTEP win would probably be the best the Herd could hope for, moving the team to 12th behind the Miners, but one game, and the tie-breaker with FIU, would keep Marshall ahead of the Golden Panthers with two games left next weekend for most teams in the league.

“The game plan we had in place, I felt really good about. I feel like we practiced with more energy than we played with today, defensively. It hurt us early and we dug ourselves a hole that we could never quite get out of,” Daniel said of the Herd’s effort in the game.

“I’m doing everything I know how to do. I’m trying to coach them hard, I’m trying to save legs, implement game plans and everything I know to do — just keep after it. I think we’re a little bit numb (after the game) because we’re tired — I think we’re a little bit numb because we’re tired, mentally and emotionally beat down. We need to win a game and we’ve got to try to figure out how to get that done.”

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, McKenzie Akers brings ball up court

Princeton, W.Va., native McKenzie Akers drives the ball up the court in her final home game, scoring 8 points on 2-of-8 from three. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

The win by the 49ers snapped a 4-game losing streak for Charlotte, who improved to 18-9 and 10-6 in Conference USA. It might enable them to finish in the top four for a bye in the C-USA tourney, with home games versus UTSA and UTEP this coming week.

Marshall dropped its eighth straight to fall to 12-15, 4-12 in the league. Next week, Marshall plays at Rice (16-10, 7-8 in C-USA before Saturday’s game with Louisiana Tech) and at North Texas (11-15, 8-7 in C-USA before Saturday’s game at Southern Miss).

The 49ers defense held the Herd to only 36.8% shooting from the field (25-68) and only 21.9% from three (7-32, after a 1-11 start in the first quarter). The Herd did hit 81.8% from the free throw line, with Gore knocking down 7-of-7, Hamilton hitting 5-of-5 and Evans 6-of-8 for a team 18-of-22. Charlotte shot 52.9% from the field (36-68), 44.4% from three (8-of-18). The 49ers only hit 50% from the line, 9-of-18, or the final score might have been worse.

The 49ers outscored the Herd on points in the paint (46-32) and off the bench (23-9). They also won the rebounding battle 48-35, which helped fuel a 17-9 edge in second-chance points. Another stat won by Charlotte was 15-to-11 in points off turnovers, despite the Herd turning the ball over 14 times to 17 for the 49ers.

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, defense swarms Shayna Gore, who scored 17

Shayna Gore attracts the defense of Charlotte, including (4) Laia Raventos, (34) Dara Pearson and (21) Lefty Webster. Gore scored 17 for the Herd, including 4-of-9 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

“I thought we did a pretty good job taking care of the ball today, but our turnovers were key and Charlotte made us pay when we missed assignments. That’s this league. We’ve got to grow up and figure it out,” Daniel said. “We made (Charlotte play faster) and I think that kept us in the game, even in the third quarter (when the Herd had 6-of-14 turnovers). We just have to play better basketball. We just have to get healthy and get our minds right and go back after it again next week.”

Charlotte is 9-1 versus the Herd in the series that started back in 1990, and Marshall’s only win was in Huntington in 2014. The 49ers put all five of its starters in double figures, an effort led by Grace Hunter having a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds. Lefty Webster (7-for-10 from the field, 1-of-2 from three and 2-of-4 at the line) had a team-high 17 points — moving to No. 7 all-time in scoring at Charlotte, with 1,456 points in her career.

Amaya Ranson added 13 (5-for-5 from the field and on 3-pointers, 3-for-3), 6-foot-3 forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers scored 12 points and Ciara Gregory added 10. Laia Raventos added five assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes off the bench.

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, Asheika Alexander battles underneath

The Herd’s Asheika Alexander battles with 6-3 Nylia Jamison-Myers (15) and Laia Raventos (4) for a rebound and scored 6 points off the bench for Marshall in the 14-point loss to Charlotte. (Herd Insider photo by Greg Perry)

The Thundering Herd will hit the road for its final week of C-USA regular season play, as it travels to Rice on Thursday for an 8 p.m. ET. Then the Herd will travel to North Texas for a tip at 4 p.m. ET next Saturday.

Daniel saw his team last year play its way into a WNIT berth with making the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament, and two years ago the Herd upset the No. 1 seed on the road in the WBI, Northern Kentucky, then lost a last-second heartbreaker on the road at Mercer in the second round. The Herd saw its first post-conference tournament basketball since 1997 when the Herd won the Southern Conference Tournament and battled Colorado in the NCAA Tournament.

“I just want to play better basketball and when the result comes, it comes,” Daniel said of this final week of the regular seasons. “I felt really good leaving practice and I’d like to feel good again leaving a game. In order to do that, we just have to play better. It would be huge.

“I’ve never missed a postseason (conference) tournament (as a head coach) and I don’t want to start that trend now. I really believe that if we get in the field and get things clicking, we’re as dangerous as anybody else.”

THUNDER NOTES

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, Talequia Hamilton Sr. Day

  • Talequia Hamilton had one block in the game (87th of her career), tying her for seventh on the all-time Marshall list with Lisa Pruner (1980-84). It was also her 49th block of the season, tying her for fourth most in a single year with Tynikki Crook (49, 2008-09). Next up is Chelsey Romero, who is third with 54 in the 2013-14 season. Hamilton now has 634 points, 329 rebounds (149 offensive), also hit 50 career assists with three today and 43 steals with one.

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, McKenzie Akers Sr. Day

  • McKenzie Akers made two more 3-pointers to give her 130 for her career, one shy of Cindy McCauley’s (1994-98) third-place mark in the school’s all-time records. It is also her 43rd of the season and needs only two to tie for No. 10 with AJ Johnson, who had 45 threes in 2013-14. Akers continued her best season three in rebounds with 55 so far this year, 128 in her career, and picked up assist No. 111 and steal No. 50.

MUWBSKB 2016-17 Game 927 Feb. 25, 2017 Lost 89-75 to Charlotte, Kiana Evans Sr. Day

  • Kiana Evans now has 635 points in her career (all but 47 points coming the past two seasons), had 327 rebounds (57 offensive), 97 assists, 32 blocks and 55 steals. Her 148 rebounds this season is a career best, as is 45 assists.
  • Shayna Gore made two threes as well (113 in her career) to pull her within two of former teammate Norrisha Victrum (2012-16) for seventh. It moves her to 62 threes this season and she needed six to tie Kizzy Hart (68, 2007-08) for third most in a year. Gore is shooting 36.9% from three this season and that is 10th in a season.
  • Logan Fraley hit 1-of-2 from three today, moving her to 38.1% shooting in her two-year career (43-of-113). That is second all-time in a career at Marshall to only Amanda Eddinger who hit 40.3% from 1990-94 (91-of-226).

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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