HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Reserve Brittny Norris exploded for 33 of her 35 points in the second half to lift the Southern Mississippi women’s basketball team to a come-from-behind 82-78 win over Marshall Thursday evening in the Cam Henderson Center.
The win improved the Lady Eagles to 14-8 overall and 6-4 in the league, while Marshall dropped its second home game of the season to fall to 12-9 and 4-6 in the league.
Norris, who came into the game averaging just 4.2 points per contest, made 12 of her 17 field goal attempts, including seven of 12 from 3-point range. She led a Southern Miss bench unit that outscored Marshall by a whopping 52-2 margin.
Brittanny Dinkins also had 22 points (10-for-20 shooting), seven assists (just one turnover) and five steals.
Marshall was led by Shayna Gore’s 27 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-6 from downtown. Kiana Evans added 17 points and Talequia Hamilton made all six of her field goal attempts en route to 14 points and three blocked shots. She and Evans finished with a game-high nine rebounds apiece. Khadaijia Brooks contributed five assists.
Turnovers were a major factor in the game as the Lady Eagle fullcourt press forced a season-high 26 Thundering Herd turnovers, which yielded a 32-15 Southern Miss edge in points off turnovers and a 14-5 advantage in steals. That helped nullify a 56.7 percent Marshall shooting effort (25-for-44), which included 11 3-pointers. Southern Miss attempted 27 more field goals and, itself, made nine 3-pointers.
Marshall raced out to a 23-9 lead through one quarter, making eight of its first 12 shots, while holding Southern Miss to a 3-for-20 performance. The lead grew to as many as 21 on a Hamilton layup with 1:54 left in the second quarter. The Lady Eagles got the final four points of the quarter for a 41-24 Thundering Herd halftime lead.
Things still looked promising for Marshall through three quarters when it found itself with a 60-48 lead and the margin grew to 14 (67-53) when Brooks drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 6:22 left in the game.
However, the Lady Eagles ripped off a 21-8 run over the game’s next 4:30 to take a 75-74 lead on a Respect Leaphart backcourt steal and layup with 1:45 left. The Thundering Herd pulled back in front on two Gore free throws on the next possession and answered a Dinkins layup with a Hamilton free throw to draw even at 77 with 47 seconds left.
That would be short-lived, though, as Norris got loose on the wing on the ensuing possession and swished the go-ahead 3-pointer with 17 seconds left. Marshall missed on the other end and Southern Miss made the necessary free throws down the stretch for the final margin.
The Lady Eagles shot a blistering 68.4 percent (13-for-19) in the fourth quarter and outscored the home team 34-18.
The Thundering Herd won the rebounding battle 39-30.
McKenzie Akers made three 3-pointers to give her a career total of 122. She is now fourth on the school’s all-time list, passing Toni Patillo (121, 1997-2001). Cindy McCauley (131, 1994-98) sits third.
Marshall is back in action Saturday at 1 p.m. when Louisiana Tech (10-11, 5-5) visits. Tech dropped a 67-58 contest at WKU (16-6, 8-2) Thursday evening.
Marshall coach Matt Daniel
On losing a 21-point first-half lead…
“It was a nightmare. The good news is we can wake up tomorrow and go back at it. We have to handle wins and losses with the same consistency.”
On moving on following the loss…
“It’s the same thing as a play (on the court). We have to put this game [mentally] away.”
On what was the most disappointing, the 26 points turnovers or the loss of composure…
“It’s composure because that lasts you the rest of your life. Turnovers are done when you are done.”