BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Charlotte’s Ciara Gregory and Nyilah Jamison-Myers scored 19 points apiece as fifth-seeded Charlotte held off a furious comeback attempt by 12th-seeded Marshall to emerge with a 71-66 victory Saturday afternoon at Bartow Arena in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.
Lefty Webster added 12 points, nine assists and three blocks and Amaya Ransom tacked on 10 points as well. Grace Hunter shook off a 1-for-7 shooting day to post a game-high 13 rebounds.
Gregory made five 3-pointers, but took 16 shots from deep to do it.
Marshall was led by Shayna Gore’s 27 points, 22 of which came in the second half. She also made 10 field goals, the most for the program in its C-USA Tournament history. Taylor Porter added 15 points and Talequia Hamilton chipped in 11. Gore, Porter and Kiana Evans all posted three steals apiece to lead a Marshall 12-1 edge in that department.
The Thundering Herd also had just five turnovers, which was another program tourney record, while it hounded Charlotte into 18 miscues. That created a 19-2 Marshall advantage in points off those mistakes.
Marshall jumped out to a 19-11 lead on a Porter jumper one minute, seven seconds into the second stanza, but the rest of the quarter proved to be troublesome. The Thundering Herd went the final six minutes and 10 seconds of the quarter and the first one minute, 24 seconds of the third without a point to fall behind by as many as 14 (36-22).
However, Marshall stepped up its game in the second half and outscored the 49ers 41-24 during one stretch to take a three-point lead (63-60) on a Gore triple with 4:49 left in the game.
Marshall held a 66-65 lead with 2:24 left before Charlotte responded with back-to-back layups by Jamison-Myers to pull back ahead. Hunter and Webster made free throws for the final margin.
“I thought we showed some resiliency battling back in the second half,” said Marshall coach Matt Daniel. “We struggled offensively in the first half, but our defense kept us in the game until we got it going on the offensive end. Our game made for a pretty good 5/12 game in a conference championship.”
“Being picked 10th and finishing tied for 11th in this league, we knew were going to learn a lot this season. For the ones who won’t wear the Marshall jersey anymore, I hope they learned things that will carry them into their futures. For the ones who will, I hope they learned things that will help them prepare for next season.”
Gore’s three 3-pointers gave her 70 in 2016-17, the second-highest single-season total in program history.
McKenzie Akers finished her career with 135 3-pointers, good for third all-time in the program’s records, while Gore stands in a tie for fifth with 121 through her two seasons.
Hamilton’s three blocks gave her 54 this season (tied for third in single-season records) and 92 for her career to move her into sixth all-time.
Charlotte will face fourth-seeded Louisiana Tech Thursday at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT in the quarterfinals.