Herd hangs with Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Was it the Pitt Panthers or Marshall's Thundering Herd on the court Saturday?
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said it was Marshall playing like the Pitt men's basketball program where first-year Herd coach Tom Herrion came from.
Herrion begged to differ.
"In our tenacity, in our effort, I thought we played like a Marshall team I want to coach," Herrion said. "We played Marshall basketball today in our effort and competitiveness."
The bottom line, however, was Louisville pulling away in the second half for an 80-66 victory before a KFC Yum! Center crowd of 21,262.
Marshall (3-2) was tremendous on the boards, outrebounding the Cardinals by plus-1 overall and grabbing 25 offensive rebounds in the process.
"When is the last time a team had 25 offensive rebounds," Herrion said. "They don't just fall to us. We're playing some major athletes out there. That's effort."
The Herd's downfall was its 13 of 29 free throw shooting and committing 19 turnovers.
Louisville (4-0) created many of the Marshall turnovers with its full-court pressure defense, but the Herd was on its own at the foul line.
"What we need to work on is our free throws," said Marshall guard Dre Kane, who fired in 25 points, but was 4-for-10 on the foul line. "We're going to get it together."
Herrion, Kane and guard Dago Pena all said Marshall took a giant step forward against a Big East Conference power on its homecourt.
But, none of them accepted losing.
"Obviously, disappointed in the loss," Herrion said. "But extremely proud of my kids. We battled endlessly, valiantly."
In a game of runs, Louisville made a big spurt to open the second half.
Louisville pulled away early by 11, but Marshall rallied back to take a 34-33 halftime lead.
Pitino made the substitution of the day, putting Stephan Van Treese in the lineup to open the second half and the 6-foot-9 sophomore dunked twice in the first couple minutes when Louisville regained a 10-point advantage.
Take away Van Tresse's production, and Pitino said he didn't think the Cardinals would have won.
The Cardinals widened the gap to 16 with on a dunk and a jump shot by former Huntington Prep Academy player Gorgui Dieng, who came off the bench for 14 minutes. Dieng contributed eight points, four rebounds and two of Louisville's 11 blocked shots.
Peyton Siva's 3-point shot put Louisville ahead by its biggest margin, 67-50, with 6:42 left to play.
Marshall's foul shooting misery continued and stopped the Herd's comeback bid in the final minutes. Marshall missed 14 of 25 free throw attempts in the second half.
"If you go on the road and get 29 free throws, if you make seven or eight of those during a stretch it might be the difference in the game,' Herrion said.
Forward Tirrell Baines (13) and Pena (12) followed Kane's double-figure scoring for the Herd. Nigel Spikes scored six and Shaq Johnson had five points, but the rest of the Herd combined for just five.
Baines led Marshall rebounders with nine while Kane and Johnny Thomas both snagged seven.
The Herd's turnover count included Kane's six and Johnson's four.
Herrion said Kane played well, but he didn't shoot free throws well and he had six turnovers.
"That's not good enough," Herrion said. "As well as he played, he's got to play better."
Johnson had an off-shooting day at 2-for-8 from the field. Herrion said the junior guard had to provide more scoring punch.
One of Johnson's missed shots was a blown, wide-open layup after stealing the ball with about four minutes to go that could have put the Herd within 10 points.
Louisville's depth was on display, as the Cardinals had seven players with at least eight points. Rakeem Buckles, Mike Marra and Siva led with 12 apiece.
"The most disappointing thing, because this team has been great at focusing in on the game plan, I don't think they believed how physical this team (Marshall) is on the back board," Pitino said. "So, there was a lesson learned there.
"The fact that Chattanooga beat them at Marshall, so they thought it was going to be blowout time. "
Earlier games of the Global Sports Shootout included Chattanooga winning at Marshall, 69-68, and Louisville hammering the Mocs, 106-65.
This one was not a blowout. Marshall played hard to the finish, but made too many mistakes and missed too many free throws. Louisville knew it was in a fight.
"A big step," Kane said. "I thought we played extremely better. We fought to the buzzer. We just fell short a little bit today."
Pena said the team rebounded, guarded and made shots, but just had too many turnovers and missed free throws.
Marshall returned home to begin preparing for a Monday game in the Global Sports Shootout against Florida International. The Panthers are coached by former NBA player and head coach Isiah Thomas.
The FIU Panthers took a 3-1 record into a Saturday night game at Chattanooga.