One year after COVID-19 shutdown, perspective reigns at C-USA Tournament

FRISCO, Texas – Sometimes life is all about perspective. . . That has never been more important than over the last 365 days. . . Thursday marks the one-year mark of COVID-19 being labeled a pandemic – a day which everyone will remember for the rest of their lives. . . The following afternoon, the Conference USA Tournament was canceled, and over the course of the next few days, so was the rest of sports in the NCAA world. . . COVID-19 is an issue all of college athletics has fought over the last year, but as Marshall point guard Jarrod West pointed out, the pandemic and its effects have forever changed the mindset in regard to looking too far ahead in sports. . . We dont know what Thursday holds, West said prior to Wednesdays game. As of right now, we have a game Wednesday and we dont know what happens after that. Im just trying to stay in the moment and enjoy every moment that we get – practice, the bus ride, the travel, all types of stuff – because it goes by fast and its finally here. . . Weve been itching to get back, for sure, to the conference tournament and now, were back, so Im looking forward to making the most of it. Its win or go home. Its time to bring it, for sure. . . As a team itself, Marshalls mens basketball team endured plenty of COVID-19 struggles throughout the regular season, with two C-USA series canceled and another set postponed and rescheduled. . . It led to a scenario in which the Herd played seven of their first eight games away from home and also played Western Kentucky on just one days rest after its own two-week shutdown. . . Marshalls womens team also endured struggles. Thursday also marks one year since the team was pulled off the court just six minutes before its scheduled game with Rice in the C-USA quarterfinals – a haunting memory. . . As the new season got started, the Herd women had their own share of issues, playing just two non-conference games and also taking on the first two weekends of C-USA action with a limited roster of seven players. . . Their journey in the Conference USA Tournament ended with a 50-48 loss to Louisiana Tech in Wednesdays first-round battle, but head coach Tony Kemper said the experience of dealing with the issues of the last year will stay with the players moving forward. . . It was tough, but I think, overall, they learned that they could get through things, Kemper said. The group in our locker room, they are tougher now for life purposes and basketball purposes, too. I think anybody that has been through the last 12 months is that way if they are looking at things with the right perspective. . . McNELIS STRONG. The first game on Wednesday featured FIU and Southern Miss, whose head coach Joye Lee-McNelis was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January. . . Lee-McNelis, who has been a part of every Conference USA Tournament in the leagues history, had previously been diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and had surgery to remove a mass in her left lung. . . On Wednesday, members of Conference USA and Southern Miss wore yellow ribbons in support of Lee-McNelis in her battle. . . GRITTY COMEBACK. On Tuesday, Old Dominions womens basketball team was on the brink of elimination, trailing Western Kentucky 65-60 with 22 second left in regulation. . . The Monarchs got a 3-pointer by Victoria Morris and then a jump ball, which led to a Maggie Robinson layup that tied the game at 65 with two seconds left. . . ODU then earned the 83-77 overtime win to advance to Wednesdays matchup with North Texas, which it won 71-66 to advance to Thursdays quarterfinals. . . BIG TURN OF EVENTS. On the womens side, Southern Miss trailed by as many as 16 in the third quarter, but used defense to mount a rally. . . USM had a chance to cut the lead to three, but missed a layup which turned into a rare five-point possession on the other end for FIU, which hit a 3-pointer while a foul call occurred underneath. . . The seven-point swing loomed large in what proved to be a one-possession game in the final minute. . . BIRTHDAY BALLIN. Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey celebrated his birthday on Wednesday by taking part in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.

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