— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Pressure and tempo are trademarks of Marshall women’s basketball under new coach Kim Caldwell.
That style was on display for the first time at the Cam Henderson Center on Monday night when the Thundering Herd raced past Point Park, 121-55, in the home opener for Caldwell. Marshall unleashed 104 shots, 48 of them from behind the arc, and forced 38 turnovers. Caldwell noted her team totaled 37 assists.
“Glad to get a lot out of everyone,” Caldwell said. “Playing as a team. Nice to be a home. It’s a lot more fun. Saw a lot of familiar faces. People I know and they support me. A lot I’ve connected with since I came here.”
Midway through the second period, Marshall held the lead at 29-21. The Herd then put the hammer down and sprinted to a 57-28 lead at the half. The Herd forced 22 of the visitor’s turnovers.
In the third period, Marshall enjoyed a 34-8 scoring edge for a 91-36 advantage. Mahogany Matthews sank two free throws with just over seven minutes left to put the home team total at 100.
Roshala Scott led the Herd attack with 29 points. Aislynn Hayes added 20 and Breanna Campbell 11.
Abby Beeman had a memorable game with a triple double. She scored 13 points, got 10 rebounds and handed out 11 assists.
“Just to get back on track is important,” Beeman said. “I’ve been close before. I find out after the fact. Things came natural all across the board.”
“Heck of a game,” Caldwell said of Beeman. “She’s very efficient. She’s a selfless player. She makes everyone better.”
Gabriella Legister paced the Pioneers with a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She made 7-of-10 shots from the field.
Monday night counted as a game for the Herd. For Point Park, an NAIA school and member of the River States Conference, this contest goes down as an exhibition. It was the second exhibition for the Pioneers. The first came against Pitt. The Pioneers next visit Malone and Rio Grande.
In attendance Monday night was Sarah Evans Moore, former women’s basketball coach at Marshall. She observed the contest and got to recognize names. She’ll do some color commentary on future Herd TV games.
In the first three games, losses to George Mason and Northern Kentucky and win over Chattanooga, the Herd had one bad quarter and fell behind by double figures. This time, that didn’t happen.
“We have to find a way to keep getting better,” Beeman said. “Games like this are super important. We haven’t shot well. Didn’t hit shots until near the end. We knew they’d fall if we kept shooting. Let it fly. You’re going to make those shots.”
“We’ve not been as consistent as I’d like,” Caldwell said. “You don’t want one pass, then jack it up. If you’re open, there’s trust to hit the three. It’s a lot more fun to watch and play this way.”
Marshall (2-2) is on the road for the next two games. The Herd visits Wright State on Saturday and Morehead State on Nov. 30. The next home game is Dec. 2 against Florida, member of the Southeastern Conference.
“We have to be more consistent,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to be different teams all the time.”