Fulton says Tot-ta to Lady Owls

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

KIRKSVILLE -- When the season began, it appeared the Marshall girls' basketball team had sufficient offensive weapons, although head coach Tony Willis was worried about defense.

By the end of the campaign, the opposite was the case. The fourth-seeded Lady Owls were held under 40 points for the 11th time in 19 games since the Christmas break Tuesday during a 47-32 loss to No. 5 Fulton in the first round of the Class 4, District 8 Tournament at Fulton.

"It was one of those games where we couldn't get started," Willis admitted. "In the first half we had opportunities, but couldn't put the ball in the bucket."

Sophomore Sloane Totta nearly out-scored Marshall by herself with 25 points, including a three-pointer which staked the Lady Hornets to a 7-2 lead. The Lady Owls closed to within a point on senior Karson Heying's second-chance basket, but Fulton closed the half with an 11-3 run for a nine-point lead.

The Lady Hornets widened the gap to 12 points early in the second half when sophomore Nashayla Brandt scored on a back-cut, but Marshall clawed its way back into contention -- getting the deficit down to six points on senior Payton Beeler's bomb.

Unfortunately for the Lady Owls, each surge was answered by Totta, who struck three times from the outside -- each after a Marshall score.

"It's just poor execution on our part," Willis said about failing to close out on Totta. "Two inbounds plays really broke our back."

After carving out a six-point edge, Fulton (9-17) secured the victory -- and a semifinal contest with top seed Helias -- by sinking eight of 12 free throws during the final three-and-a-half minutes.

Heying and Beeler combined for 24 points, and the vast majority of field-goal attempts, for the Lady Owls (10-14) -- who will have to find others to take up the slack produced by the departure of their top two scorers.

"We're going to have to become more aggressive offensively, and that goes to individuals as much as it does team," Willis declared. "In a game like the one [Tuesday], you have more of a sense of urgency."

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

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