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ODU Women's Basketball Makes Top-Seeded Marshall Sweat Before Dropping a 76-70 Loss in Sun Belt Semifinals


PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Old Dominion women's basketball team made top-seeded Marshall sweat. The Monarchs led by eight at halftime and rattled off a 13-3 run in the fourth quarter to pull within five points with two minutes to go.
But led by Sun Belt Player of the Year Abby Beeman, the Herd held off the Monarchs, 76-70, Sunday afternoon at the Pensacola Bay Center in the Sun Belt Conference semifinals.
Beeman scored 22 points for Marshall (25-6), which advances to Monday's Sun Belt championship game against James Madison, which defeated Louisiana in the other semifinal.

The winner will claim the Sun Belt's NCAA Tournament bid.
ODU (22-9) remains hopeful of a postseason bid in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Monarchs played a good non-conference schedule and finished strong, winning 10 of their last 14 games.
As was the case in both of ODU's previous losses to Marshall, the Herd was dominant in the third quarter and the Monarchs could not recover.
ODU led by eight points at halftime but was outscored, 21-8, in the third quarter. ODU had handled Marshall's press pretty well in the first half and had just seven turnovers.
But the Monarchs coughed up 19 second-half turnovers.
ODU head coach Delisha Milton-Jones said the Monarchs allowed Marshall's press to rattle them.
"This was a hard loss to take," Milton-Jones said.  "It wasn't so much as what Marshall did to us as to what we did ourselves.
"We had more turnovers (10) than points (8) in the third quarter.
"Everything shifted in the third quarter. We got back on our heels a little bit."
Marshall scored three points off of turnovers in the first half and had 27 in the second half.
ODU was without En'Dya Buford, its leading scorer and a third-team All-Sun Belt choice, and was playing a Marshall team that has won most of its Sun Belt games by wide margins.
The Monarchs lost twice to Marshall earlier this season by a combined 44 points and neither game was close by the end of the third quarter.
Two ODU veterans played major roles in allowing the Monarchs to nearly pull off an upset.
Kaye Clark, the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, played one of the best games of her career, leading ODU with 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
Senior point guard Jordan McLaughlin added 15 points and four rebounds.
Milton-Jones said her players needed to play with more confidence and dictate the game's tempo and, of course, shoot well, to upset Marshall. They did that for most of the game.
Marshall burst to a 9-2 lead on three three-point shots. But ODU then kicked its defense up a notch and Clark went on a scoring spree, with 10 first-quarter points.
The Monarchs led, 17-14 at the end of the first quarter, and McLaughlin's three-pointer with 56 seconds to go in the second quarter gave the Monarchs a 10-point lead, 38-28.
The  Monarchs led by eight, and clearly had the momentum, heading into halftime.
But then Marshall's press began to finally have an effect. The Monarchs went on a four-minute scoreless streak and Aislynn Hayes tied the score at 47-all with 2:14 left.
Beeman then finished off the quarter with a three-pointer and then a steal and a jump shot and just like that, Marshall led, 52-47.
Marshall appeared on the way to clinching the game after the Herd built the lead to 15 with 5:51 left. But then ODU went on its 13-3 run, aided by two three-point shots from Halima Salat, and narrowed the lead to five with 2:17 to go.
"We take on the identity of our coach," McLaughlin said. "She's not one to just lay down and give someone a game. She tells us to have heart, have pride in what we do.
"We respect the game, so we give it our all no matter what the score is."
Alas, ODU could get no closer. ODU was forced to foul in the closing seconds and the Herd made 8 of 8 free throws to hold off the Monarchs.
Marshall head coach Kim Stephens praised ODU's effort.
"That was a much better Old Dominion team than the one we saw earlier this season," she said. "They forced us to come from behind and that's not something we've had to do very much lately."
Milton-Jones expressed dissatisfaction with the fact no one from the Sun Belt other than Monday's championship game winner will go to the NCAA Tournament.
"The Sun Belt should not be a one-bid league," she said. "It needs to be respected because there is some great basketball played in this league.
"Why does it have to be six or eight teams that come from another conference when probably two of those teams don't deserve to go? Two from this league deserve to go."
She added that she expects to receive a call from the WNIT and if asked to play, the Monarchs will accept, she said.
Clark said if the Monarchs get a WNIT bid, "our goal is to win a championship."
"We want to go out with a bang," McLaughlin added.