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ODU Women's Basketball Falls to Sun Belt Leader Marshall, 89-75

Bruce Butler

Kaye Clark scored 10 points and played outstanding defense for the Monarchs

By Harry Minium
NORFOLK, Va. – Marshall came into Chartway Arena with a head of steam and rolled past Old Dominion Saturday afternoon in a matchup of two of the best Sun Belt Conference women's basketball teams.
The Herd made six of every eight shots they took when the game was competitive and shot a blistering 80 percent in the third quarter, when the game was decided, and defeated the Monarchs, 89-75, Chartway Arena.
The game was tightly officiated, and that was a handicap for ODU, which has one of the nation's top defenses. The Monarchs simply could not get in a defensive groove and played much of the game without Brenda Fontana and Simone Cunningham, who got in early foul trouble.
But the Monarchs' primary problem was their inability to handle Marshall's full-court press, which forced 23 turnovers through the first three quarters. Marshall led by 22 at the end of a disastrous third quarter, and by then the game was out of reach.
Sun Belt leader Marshall (19-6 overall, 13-1 Sun Belt) won for the 12th time in its last 13 games. ODU (18-7, 9-5), which had won six of its last seven games, fell out of a three-way tie for third into a tie for fourth with Georgia State.
ODU is intent on finishing among the top four teams and thus garnering a bye past the first two rounds and into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Marshall blew the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Monarchs 32-12.
"In the first half, while we didn't necessarily remain disciplined and poised, we were still in it and it was still a good ballgame," said ODU head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones. "But in the third quarter, it felt like the bottom just fell out."
Cunningham finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in less than 21 minutes. Fontana had 16 points and five rebounds in less than 20 minutes
En'Dya Buford, who had 16 points for ODU, made a three-pointer with 5:21 left in the second quarter to knot the score at 24-all. But that was to be the high-water mark for ODU.
Marshall quickly expanded the lead to back to seven the blew the game open in the third quarter.

ODU Women's Basketball team dressed in pink in the annual Play4Kay game. 
The Herd led by seven when Cunningham was called for a foul in which she and a Marshall player both fell to the floor. After reviewing the call, refs called it an intentional foul, and that's where things fell apart.
Marshall's Breanna Campbell made two free throws. The Herd got the ball back because of the intentional foul and Campbell followed with a layup. After an unforced ODU turnover, Aislynn Hayes made a three-pointer and suddenly the Herd led by 14.
The Herd made six of their last eight shots and led 65-43 at the end of the third quarter.

Halima Salat puts up a three-point shot. 

The Monarchs appeared to be knocked by emotionally by the Herd outburst. Milton-Jones said she was disappointed by the way they reacted.
"We let our emotions get involved," she said. "We are not the ballclub yet that has shown the discipline in those situations that we need to have.
"When it comes to moments like that, we can't point the finger at the officials, we can't point a finger at circumstances. We have to point to ourselves."

Milton-Jones had nothing but praise for Marshall, which defeated ODU, 90-60, earlier this season.
"You've got to tip your hat to Marshall, because they are going to be themselves through and through and through. They play with that (up-tempo) rhythm all game long and we never adjusted," she said.
"We've got to find a way to figure this out so that when it matters most, in the conference tournament, that we're primed and ready."

 Simone Cunningham brings the ball up court. 

It was the annual Play4Kay game, dedicated to raise funds for research and to create awareness of breast cancer. It is named for former N.C. State coach Kay Yow, who succumbed to breast cancer.
Marshall wore pink with green trim, ODU wore white with pink trim and a majority in the crowd of 2,556 wore pink. Cunningham dyed her hair pink for the occasion. 
"I wish we didn't have to have this game because that means that cancer is still a part of our lives," Milton-Jones said. "But it is, and I love the initiative behind wanting to raise funds for research so that we can find ways to keep our loves ones here with us."