Frankfort grad Beeman leads Marshall to NCAA tournament, named SBC tourney's top player

Mar. 12—PENSACOLA, Fla. — Frankfort grad Abby Beeman helped lead Marshall to the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship Monday, securing the Thundering Herd's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1997.

Beeman, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, fouled out late in regulation against James Madison, but Breanna Campbell picked up the slack and Marshall won 95-92 in overtime.

"It's definitely something I've dreamed about, just to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament," Beeman said. "People don't really realize I feel like, when you're at a mid-major program, how hard it is to get there. So I'm very appreciative of the journey and for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to it."

The Ridgeley, West Virginia, native notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists for the Thundering Herd, who are 26-6 in the first season under head coach Kim Caldwell.

"We went into OT and we didn't have our top dog, we didn't have our leader" said Caldwell, motioning towards Beeman. "Bre played the entire five minutes there without a sub. ... She didn't even blink. She was willing her team."

Meredith Maier notched team highs of 20 points and seven rebounds while Aislynn Hayes added 19 points and Breanna Campbell scored 15.

In overtime, Marshall got a pair of huge shots from Hayes — a 3-pointer with 2:02 left that gave the Herd the lead and then a jumper through contact as the shot clock expired with 29 seconds left to make it 92-88.

The championship victory avenged Marshall's only loss in Sun Belt play.

The Herd now await the NCAA Selection Show to hear its opponent in the NCAA Tournament. The show is scheduled for Sunday at 8 p.m.

"I've always played basketball in this state, even before I was here," Beeman said. "It's special to me. It's special to represent those people. ... I'm proud to represent my home state, and hopefully I can represent them well."

Beeman was named Sun Belt Player of the Year last week after averaging 16.8 points per game, sixth-best in the conference, during the regular season to go along with 6.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

Her 179 total assists led the Sun Belt and were the 10th most in the country.

Beeman was also one of six players nationally to record a pair of triple-doubles this season.

Marshall finished with the best conference record in program history (17-1) and its first 20-win regular season since 1990-91.

The graduate student also passed the 2,000-point threshold on Jan. 20 in a 97-85 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Beeman now has 2,224 career points, with 966 coming in two years in a Marshall uniform and 1,258 over her time at Division 2 Shepherd.

Beeman also reached the mark at Frankfort High School, ending her illustrious career in Short Gap with 2,228 points in 103 games — a 21.6 per game average. She was the first Frankfort girls basketball player to surpass the 2,000-career-point threshold.

During her senior campaign at Frankfort, Beeman averaged 22 points, 7.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 4.7 steals as the leader of a Frankfort squad that went 21-5 and advanced to the West Virginia Class AA state semifinals.

Beeman was a two-time area girls basketball Player of the Year recipient.