Marshall edges Florida 91-88 for first win over Power 5 foe since 2007

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A shocker at the Cam Henderson Center.

Marshall toppled Florida of the Southeastern Conference, 91-88, which will go down as one of the more impressive wins in program history regardless of conference affiliation.

The Thundering Herd (3-4) trailed 88-81 with 3-plus minutes left in the game. Marshall then closed on a 10-0 run  to secure the victory Saturday.

Abby Beeman led Marshall with 24 points and 11 assists. Breanna Campbell added 19 points, Aislynn Hayes 18 and Mahagony Matthews 13.

“Exciting. This one’s going down in the books. We’d lost two in a row,” Matthews said. “Get this now and stay on the same page.”

Marshall prevailed without its leading scorer Roshala Scott (21-point average).

“We’re trying to figure things out,” first-year head coach Kim Caldwell said to explain the situation.

Beeman started the comeback with a basket with 3:13 left. CC Mays then made a layup, assist to Beeman, to cut the deficit to 88-85 with 2:45 left. Breanna Campbell connected on two free throws with 2:08 to go to get the Herd within one (88-87).

Campbell and Beeman came through at the foul line down to first take the lead and then preserve it.

Campbell hit two with 1:06 left to tie the game and then put the Herd ahead to stay at 89-88. Beeman knocked down two free throws with 22 ticks left to ice it. Florida kept coming up empty from the field at the wrong time and foul and hope the Herd missed throws, but didn’t.

“Hard to reflect on right now,” Beeman said. “It’s a great feeling. We just needed it now no matter who we played.”

This is Marshall’s first win over a Power 5 school since it beat Missouri in 2007.

“Happy with the effort, happy to get the win,” Caldwell said. “We got gritty when the score did not go our way.  Just to get a win. Not too high, not too low. We have to keep doing it.”

Matthews, who is 6-foot-1, battled against taller Gators all day.

“6-4, 6-6, it’s hard,” Matthews said. “Tried to go into them. Got some shots blocked, just try to get the next one.”

Aliyah Matharu led Florida with 27 points and nine assists, while reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career. Leilani Correa contributed 23 for a career high. Ra Shaya Kyle, who is 6-foot-6, added 15 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double this season.

Beeman made 8-of-18 shots, including 5-of-11 from behind the arc.  She hit back-to-back treys to trim the deficit from 72-65 with 9:04 to play to 72-71 with 7:50 on the clock.

“I wasn’t shooting that well before this game,” Beeman said. “I knew I had to get better today to help the team. Just tried to get good looks at the basket. Everyone was a big shot. Didn’t look at the scoreboard. We had a lot of energy today. We knew we’d have play really hard.”

This was just Marshall’s second home game of the season. The Herd faces Salem at home on Monday, then plays three on the road before starting Sun Belt Conference action December 30 at Southern  Miss.

This was the first time an SEC school played in Henderson Center since Kentucky in 2005. Marshall was coming off road losses to Wright State and Morehead State.

Florida (6-2) suffered its first road loss of the season.

“It helps when you get the shots,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to find a way to do that on the road. It’s exciting. It’s bigger than us. We outworked them. Heart over height. We didn’t play scared. A lot of good things come out that way.”

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