WORTHINGTON - In a battle of two undefeated Southwest Conference teams, the Marshall Tigers came out on top, surging to a 75-55 win after stepping up in a big way in the second half against the Worthington Trojans.
The Tigers held a 39-32 lead at the half, but quickly built a 20-point advantage early in the second half.
"We were really pleased with our defensive effort in the second half," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "We took away a lot of things they did well in the first half. We had a good run to start the second half and went up by 20. That was a big boost to our kids to come out and get that big lead right away in the second half."
Westby said that his team forced the Trojans into turning the ball over more in the second half, which enhanced the Tiger offense.
"We were really disruptive in our pressure and forced them into a number of turnovers," he said. "That just enables us to get some easy baskets."
Six Marshall players recorded double-digit points, with Marah Mulso and Morgan Saugstad leading the way with 14 points apiece, followed by Hannah Bennett (12), Kenzie Beekman (11), Callie Graff (11) and Sarah Buysse (10).
"That's the kind of team I think we'll be this year," Westby said. "We may have a difficult time having anybody go off for 20 points in a game, but we have a number of players who can get 10 to 12 points on any night. That's the kind of team we'll be. We didn't shoot well early, but it got a whole lot better in the second half."
Beekman collected a team-high nine rebounds, while Buysse had eight. Before the game, Westby said he challenged his team to focus on rebounding.
"We thought we rebounded well," he said. "We had a goal coming in to not give them any second chances, and I think we did a good job of that. This is a big win. It's always difficult to play in Worthington. And this year, they're not only a conference opponent, they're also a section opponent."
Bennett led the Tigers with eight assists, while Beekman added five. Beekman also chipped in five steals, while Bennett had four.
Brooke Henning and Rebecca Linder led the Trojans with 11 points each, while Ana Boever contributed 10.
Marshall (4-0, 2-0 SWC) will continue action next on the road Tuesday against SWC rival Jackson County Central (1-5, 0-3 SWC.
"Going down to Jackson is tough," Westby said. "They're always tough at home. So it'll be a hard-fought battle. We just want to continue to work hard and get better."
Marshall 75, Worthington 55
MARSHALL (4-0 OVERALL, 2-0 SOUTHWEST): Sarah Buysse 3 2-2 10, Morgan Saugstad 5 2-3 14, Marah Mulso 7 0-0 14, Kenzie Beekman 5 1-2 11, Hannah Bennett 5 2-4 12, Callie Graff 5 0-0 11, Gabby Hess 0 1-2 1, Lexi Saugstad 1 0-0 2, Jackie Petrich 0 0-1 0. TOTALS: 31 8-14 75.
WORTHINGTON (3-1 OVERALL, 2-1 SOUTHWEST): (field goals-free throws-total points) Ana Boever 2-6-10, Abbie Landgaard 1-1-3, Brooke Henning 4-3-11, Allie Bruns 2-0-4, Emma Gerber 2-1-5, Rebecca Linder 5-1-11, Paige Gravenhof 3-0-7, Apiew Alwal 2-0-4. TOTALS: 21-12-55.
HALFTIME: Marshall 39, Worthington 32. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Marshall 5 (Buysse 2, M. Saugstad 2, Graff); Worthington 1 (Gravenhof). REBOUNDS: Marshall 35 (Beekman 9, Buysse 8). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Marshall 18. TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Marshall 17 (Bennett 8, Beekman 5). STEALS: Marshall 19 (Beekman 5, Bennett 4). BLOCKED SHOTS: Marshall 1 (Graff). TURNOVERS: Marshall 14.