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Herd women advance to SBC tournament title game

Mar. 10—By GRANT TRAYLOR

Associate Athletic Director of Strategic Communications

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Marshall Women's Basketball used a huge third-quarter performance to rally from a halftime deficit for a 76-70 win over Old Dominion in the Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference semifinals at Pensacola Bay Center on Sunday afternoon.

The win puts Marshall in Monday's 1 p.m. Sun Belt Championship game against the James Madison-Louisiana winner.

"Any time you play a team that has nine seniors, their energy is going to be unmatched and their defense frustrated us for a really long time," Marshall Women's Basketball coach Kim Caldwell said. "I was really proud of our team. We didn't blink. We stayed the course and trusted what we do and, eventually, they got tired and turned it over."

With the win, Marshall moves to 25-6 on the season, which eclipses the program's all-time record for wins in a single season. It breaks the previous mark of 24, set in the 1986-87 season.

Abby Beeman scored 22 points and added six assists to lead Marshall while Aislynn Hayes scored 20 points. Breanna Campbell and Sydni Scott each added 13 in the win.

For the third time in as many games against the Monarchs, the third quarter proved to be the difference.

On Sunday, Marshall turned up its pressure defense, scoring 13 points off of 10 Old Dominion turnovers during the third quarter while outscoring ODU, 21-8, during the period.

"All three times we've played them, we've had really big third quarters," Caldwell said. "That was the same story again tonight."

The biggest surge came in the final 25 seconds of the frame. After Hayes had tied the game at 47 on a layup, Beeman knocked down a 3-pointer to give Marshall its first lead since the first quarter before getting a steal and a layup before the buzzer to push the lead to 52-47.

"I wasn't stepping up for us — I was playing pretty bad, actually — so I just wanted to make a play for our team," Beeman said. "It was time for me to do that and I was glad I was able to get it done."

It was part of a stretch in which Beeman took the game over, scoring 11 of 13 points during a 19-2 run in which the Herd built its biggest lead at 64-49.

Hayes said the Herd's surge came down to the team's desire to continue its dream of an SBC Championship.

"We all have heart on the team, so when we are down, we're not thinking anything but 'Go get a bucket,'" Hayes said. "That's our mindset. It's just heart. This game is just heart. We want it more. We've worked for this."

Marshall scored 30 points off turnovers in earning the victory over ODU — its third over the Monarchs this season.