Coach Kemper’s post-match press video
LAS VEGAS – Second year Savannah roller lit the scorecard with a career-high 40 points as the Marshall women’s basketball team worked their way to a 79-58 victory over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at the South Point Arena. Wheeler also reached 900 points for his career.
The Thundering Herd improved to 5-4 while Oakland fell to 4-7.
Wheeler’s 40 points was a herd player’s first 40 point game since the Hall of Fame Kristina behnfeldt scored 40 against Ohio on February 10, 1999.
“I was tough against them and it was good to get a win”, head coach Herd Tony kemper noted. âWe fought for a few weeks, and boy, we needed it tonight. I thought our bench was fantastic tonight. They were loud and having a lot of fun there and it’s needed.
âObviously Savannah (Wheeler) was special. I think watching her, and if you watched her in that game, she got a bunch of accusations recently and you’ve seen her grow up tonight. A bunch of jumps. stops and starts playing at different paces, but that’s how you go to 14 for 18 on the court and really get down to somebody in. It was definitely fun to watch.
“But I loved our passion. We were excited to play. You could see it all the time.”
Wheeler did most of his damage inside the three point line. The Catlettsburg, Ky. Native was 14 of 18 on the field and 2 of 4 on three runs. Wheeler also shot seven fouls and converted 10 of 12 from the free throw line. She added five assists, four steals and four rebounds for a great overall performance.
Wheeler entered the competition with 867 career points and now has 907. She hit double-digit numbers for the 12th game in a row and for the 48th time in 58 career games. It was also his third time with 30 points or more. She surpassed her former career high of 35 points set against Old Dominion on February 6, 2021. Wheeler has also climbed the all-time standings as she is now 13th all-time with 98 three-pointers. Wheeler got ahead Tammy wiggins for eighth all-time in free throws at 279 and 15th in free throws attempted with 329. She remains the herd’s all-time leader in career free throw percentage (84.8 percent).
Graduate student Kennedi colclough scrambling all over the field causing problems inside Oakland and finished with 14 points, four boards, two interceptions and one block. Junior Lorelei Roper led the team on the glass with 11 rebounds including six offensive. It was his second double-digit game of the season and the fourth of his career. Roper scored eight points on 4 of 6 shots and continued his blocking streak in eight straight games with a rejection in the fourth quarter.
First-year student CC Mays had six points and a steal on his return to the lineup after missing the last two with injury. Senior Brianah Ferby scored four points with a few late lay-ups that helped keep pushing the herd further towards the end of the game. She also knocked down five boards, got an assist and a steal.
Senior Aaliyah Dunham tallied three assists, including an almost 70-foot pass thanks to all-field pressure to a wide-open Wheeler for a basket. Dunham caught six boards, a season high, scored two runs, stole one and took five fouls. Wheeler and Dunham combined to shoot 12 of 17 fouls called against Oakland.
Second year Alexis johnson and rookie redshirt Christiana McLean scored two points each. First-year student Aarionna Redman got a point and freshman Sarah liberator had a bounce.
The herd shot 46.2% from the field and 81% from the line. Marshall’s defense kept the Golden Grizzlies 35 percent of the field and 20.8 percent of three. The herd also held star Oakland goaltender Khalaijah Dean, who averaged over 20 points per game, to just four.
The two teams went out in the first quarter exchanging baskets and leads. There were five draws and six lead changes during the period. Oakland finished the quarter 8-0 to take a 22-17 lead. Wheeler started the day with seven points in the first. Colclough scored six points and had a steal. Oakland shot 64.3% (9 of 14) from the field and 3 of 5 (60%) from beyond the arc.
Wheeler began taking orders in the second quarter. The herd regained the lead by three points with just under eight minutes to go. However, Oakland continued in a 10-0 run to take a 7-point lead, 32-25. The Golden Grizzlies increased the lead to eight, 34-26, at 3:13. Wheeler scored nine points and Colclough scored two points in the final three minutes, and closed the lead to one, 38-37, at the end of the half. Wheeler scored 12 of the herd’s 20 points in the second and Roper scored six on 3 of 4 shots. Oakland only shot 29.4 percent from the ground and the herd topped the Golden Grizzlies 20-16.
Marshall took off in the third quarter, offensively and defensively. The herd dominated Oakland 21-6 to take a 14-point lead, 58-44. Wheeler scored the first six points of the third quarter, as the Golden Grizzlies scored just a bucket of Kayla Luchenbach, four minutes and 37 seconds into the period. Marshall pushed his double-digit lead on a basket of Wheeler’s paint following Oakland’s 50-40 turnaround. The Golden Grizzlies were 1 in 10 off the ground, including 0 in 7 beyond the arc. Oakland also converted just 4 of 8 off the line. Marshall shot 52.9 percent from the ground as Wheeler scored 12 more and Colclough had four plus one block.
Oakland managed to score 14 points in the fourth, but Marshall maintained his dominant performance to end the game. The Golden Grizzlies closed the lead to 13 points, 67-54, after two free throws with 4:14 remaining. Marshall threw a 12-0 run to push Oakland back for good. Wheeler beat his old career score on a layup and hit the foul with 2:02 to go. She then hit the free throw to register her 900th career point. With 1:22 remaining, it was once again dÃ©jÃ vu as Wheeler walked over to the basket, sank the layup and scored the foul again. She converted the free throw and hit 40 points. Coach Kemper replaced at Liberatore for Wheeler who received a big ovation from the crowd and was immediately assaulted by his teammates on the bench.
The herd increased their lead to 25 with 55 seconds left after McLean led the way, shot the foul and drained both free throws. Oakland managed to score four more points in the dying moments.
Marshall dominated Oakland 42-20 in the second half, shooting 50 percent off the ground. The defense prevented Oakland from hitting just 24.1% from the field and 0 for 13 from the outside.
The Herd ends the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic, as well as the non-conference play, on a high note. Marshall was scheduled to play against the Akron Zips on Tuesday, but Akron had to withdraw from the tournament due to COVID-19 issues in the schedule. The herd will be given a short break during the holidays before jumping into the Conference USA action. Marshall returns to Cam Henderson Center on Dec. 30 against Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. ET. The Herd then plays Southern Miss on Jan. 1, with a Cam tip set for 1 p.m.
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— HerdZone.com —