HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Junior Shala Hodges hit just one three-point field goal Sunday at Marshall, but it came with three seconds left in overtime and allowed East Carolina to record its first road win of season – a 63-62 triumph at the Cam Henderson Center. The Pirates have won four of their last five and improve to 10-18 overall and 4-11 in Conference USA play. Meanwhile, the Herd fall to 15-13 and 6-9.
The last triple of the game propelled Hodges into a double-digit scoring effort at 11. Chareya Smith paced all scorers with 18 and Katie Paschal added a career-best 13. Kristine Mial led ECU on the glass with seven rebounds and plucked a career-high eight steals.
The Pirates shot just six free throws as compared to 24 for the home side, but shot 65 percent in the second half and 50 percent in the overtime period to aid in the victory. It is the 20th time since the start of the 2006-07 season that ECU has nailed more than 60 percent of its field goals in a half. Marshall grabbed 16 offensive rebounds as part of a 40-board effort but could put in just nine second-chance points. Play in the paint would favor East Carolina by a 38-24 count.
The teams forged a 4-4 deadlock in the first four minutes, but a three-point play down low by Alaya Mitchell afforded Marshall a three-point edge at the 15:28 mark. The Pirates fought back with a 6-2 run which was capped by a Chareya Smith jumper and gave ECU a 10-9 advantage.
Paschal exploded offensively, scoring East Carolina next eight points to make the score 17-15 in favor of the Pirates with 7:38 remaining in the half. The Herd responded over the next four minutes with an 8-1 rally which gave the home side its largest cushion of the stanza at 24-18.
Fueled by another Paschal triple, ECU was able to out-score Marshall 7-4 the rest of the period to slice its deficit to just three at the break.
Paschal led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 11 points, a career high, while Tatiana Chapple and Chareya Smith pulled down four rebounds apiece. The Pirates fired at a 36-percent clip from the field and limited the Herd to a 31-percent showing, but Marshall forced 12 turnovers with a bit of full court pressure and ended up on top by two in the rebounding battle at 21-19.
Janesha Ebron scored the first two points of the second half on a nice backdoor feed from Stewart, but the Herd netted three straight to move back ahead by three. East Carolina kept the Herd to a one-possession game as time wore on, but Erica Woods eventually stretched Marshall’s lead to five when she dropped in a layup to make the score 45-40 with 9:13 remaining in the game.
The Pirates answered in the next four minutes, taking the lead when Bryelle Smith nailed a baseline jumper to make the score 50-49, but Shay Weaver hit a trey to put Marshall back in front by a deuce. A runner in the lane by Shala Hodges as the shot clock was winding down deadlocked the contest at 54 with 1:03 left, setting up the tense finish.
The Herd missed a shot on their next possession, and despite the Marshall rebounder going over Kristine Mial’s back to grab the board, Chapple was called for a hold inside, sending Woods to the line for a one-and-one. She would miss the attempt, giving ECU possession with 47 seconds on the clock.
Bryelle Smith found Hodges all alone in the paint, allowing the junior to convert an easy layup for a 56-54 advantage, Hodges then missed a one and one opportunity, allowing Latiedra Elliott to throw up a shot that found the net and send the game to the extra session.
The Pirates built a four-point lead on its first two possessions, but the Herd kept it close when a putback by Veronica Ruiz made it 60-59 in ECU’s favor with under two minutes showing. Elliott then stole the ball from Bryelle Smith with a lot of contact and was fouled. She would hit a pair of free throws to give East Carolina the ball down one with 43 seconds left. Mial had a chance down low to score, but she missed and Elliott went back to the line for two shots. Her miss on the first left the Pirates with another chance and Hodges came through, knocking down a three to make it 63-62 ECU with three seconds remaining. Elliott could not extend the game this time as the Pirates emerged victorious.
East Carolina wraps up the regular season Thursday, hosting Southern Miss at Minges Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.