Upperclassmen Lead the Herd Past UTEP, 62-58

HNN Staff

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.- Senior Tynikki Crook and junior Alaya Mitchell combined for 33 points to help Marshall to a 62-58 victory in MU’s Conference USA home opener Sunday afternoon at the Cam Henderson Center. Crook notched her seventh double-double of the season and the 24th of her career as the Detroit, Mich., native poured in a game-high 21 points and game-high 11 rebounds.

The Thundering Herd grabs its third consecutive win against UTEP and its first conference win of the season to improve to 5-9, 1-1 C-USA. The Miners fall to 9-5, 1-1 C-USA.

“We are now 1-1 in our conference race and we have defended our home court and we are very excited about that,” head coach Royce Chadwick said. “All eight people that are on our team made tremendous contributions tonight, everyone in the locker room knows that they made a difference in the game.”

In an evenly matched affair, the C-USA rivals battled to 10 lead changes in the opening stanza. Mitchell looked to be reliable early for Marshall, connecting on three-of-six from the field for eight points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of action. The Miners found its greatest production from its bench in to keep pace with the Herd, scoring 19 of its 34 points to sneak away with a 34-33 halftime advantage. Gloria Brown came off the bench to score eight of her team-high 12 points in the first half.

Mitchell converted on a layup to start the half to give Marshall the lead, one it would maintain until Anete Steinberga’s layup with 2:55 remaining in the contest. The Herd took no time regrouping and pushed the ball up the floor to freshman Orlandria Williams, who sank a shorted jumper to regain the lead, 54-53. The Thundering Herd, a 64.3% free throw team on the season, held on in the final two minutes connecting on eight-of-10 from the free throw line to hang on for the win. Veronica Ruiz was a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line during the span finishing the night with 10 points and six rebounds.

The Miners who established a new school free throw record in its previous contest, an 89-80 win against East Carolina on Thursday, were limited to just four trips to the free throw line on Sunday.

Williams finished the game with a career-high seven points in only her second start of the season.

Mitchell saw double-digits for the third straight contest, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.

UTEP’s Kelli Willingham finished the night with 11 points and five assists in the losing effort.

The Thundering Herd continues C-USA action on Thursday, Jan. 13, when it battles Rice. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., at Tudor Fieldhouse. Marshall will return home to take on Tulane on Jan. 16, before taking a break from conference play for its home state rivalry as part of the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic against West Virginia on Jan. 19th in Charleston.