Marshall Women’s Basketball wins SBC title in overtime thriller

PENSACOLA, Fla. – As Marshall’s Women’s Basketball players checked in to the game during Monday’s 2024 Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference Women’s Championship, they all tapped a pair of scissors that were taped to the scorer’s table by the team bench.

The reason? They all wanted to remember the mission: To cut down the nets at game’s end.

After a grueling 45 minutes of action, those scissors came in handy as Marshall Women’s Basketball earned the Sun Belt Conference Championship with a thrilling 95-92 overtime win over James Madison.

With the win, Marshall will make its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1997 after earning the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic bid.

It continues a record-setting year for Marshall, who is now 26-6 in the first season under head coach Kim Caldwell.

“I can’t really even describe it!” Caldwell said. “They worked their tails off. The ball was not going in and they found a way to get it done. That sums up what this team has been about from the very beginning. It’s been heart, it’s been heart, it’s been heart. We’ve been thrown some tough breaks, but they’ve always found a way to get it done.”

The Herd got huge efforts out of several different players to lead to the victory. Meredith Maier notched team-highs of 20 points and seven rebounds while Aislynn Hayes added 19 points. Breanna Campbell added 15 points while Abby Beeman notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists and Mahogany Matthews added 10 points and five blocks.

Marshall forced James Madison into 39 turnovers, which led to 48 of the Herd’s 95 points in the contest. The Herd also grabbed 33 offensive rebounds against the nation’s top defensive rebounding team, which also led to 25 second-chance points that helped offset a tough shooting performance.

“It is heart over height, all the time,” Campbell said. “We know that we have to work extra hard – super-hard, harder than others at times. But we’re going to do whatever we need to do for our team to win.”

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.

It was a gutsy overtime effort that saw Campbell play the entire session and direct the offense after Beeman fouled out late in regulation.

“Bre played the entire five minutes there without a sub, which I don’t think I’ve ever done,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think I’ve ever left a player in for that long, but she didn’t even blink. She was willing her team.”

Marshall trailed late in the third quarter, but used the momentum of a 3-pointer by Maier to get its offense going. Sydni Scott’s bucket at the horn tied the game at 52 going into the fourth quarter.

The Herd used that momentum to its advantage, scoring the first eight points in the fourth and continued its offensive surge throughout with Maier scoring 13 of her 20 points in the final regulation period, which set up the electric finish.

Marshall’s SBC Tournament championship was one for the ages as the Herd shattered several long-standing SBC records along the way, including the following:

–      Most Points in a Tournament: 287

–      Most 3-point FGs made: 30

–      Most 3-point FG attempts: 96

–      Most Steals: 44

–      Most Points in a Game: 116

–      Most Points in a Half: 62

–      Most Field Goals Made in a Game: 47

–      Most 3-pt FGs in a Game: 13

The championship victory also avenged Marshall’s only loss in SBC play this season.

Marshall now awaits the NCAA Selection Show to hear its opponent in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 17. Announcements pertaining to the NCAA Selection Show will be made in the coming days.

Those who are interested in donating to Marshall Women’s Basketball can click HERE.

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