Hornets sting Herd, 53-51
HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Thundering Herd had almost as many turnovers (15) as field goals (17) Wednesday night, and that spelled defeat.
Credit Delaware State for executing its game plan and taking a 53-51 men’s basketball victory before a Cam Henderson Center turnout of 5,039 spectators, but another poor offensive performance in Marshall’s season of many helped the Hornets immensely.
Marshall (7-7) established a season low for points and tied its low for field goals.
The Herd continued to hurt itself with missed free throws in a 13-for-23 performance.
Head coach Tom Herrion said he didn’t see it coming because the Herd had some great practices getting ready for the Hornets (6-8) from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
“We are so inefficient on offense,” Herrion said. “It’s so damaging to us night-in and night-out. Our defense was good enough to win tonight.”
Delaware State played without three of its starting players because of what head coach Greg Jackson said were disciplinary reasons, but it didn’t show One of the missing Hornets was guard Tahj Tate, who leads them with a 15.7 scoring average. Also missing was 6-foot-10 Kendall Gray, one of the nation’s leading shot blockers.
The Hornets slowed the game by allowing the 35-second shot clock to run down inside 10 before looking to score. They turned the ball over three times on shot clock violations and didn’t mind.
Jackson’s plan was to limit Marshall possessions and keep it from becoming a track meet.
“I think we did an excellent job utilizing possessions,” Jackson said. “This (Marshall) was a team we didn’t want to let them get up and down.”
Delaware State jumped to a quick six-point lead and was ahead, 21-17 at halftime in Marshall’s lowest scoring half this season.
Marshall had nine turnovers and seven field goals while missing all five of its free throws in the first period. All told, Marshall misfired on its first seven free throws before connecting.
The Hornets also changed defenses from man-to-man to zone to some full-court pressure to keep the Herd off balance.
A 10-2 surge to begin the second half left Delaware State ahead, 31-19, with 15:56 remaining.
Forward Elijah Pittman, who led Marshall with 17 points, said talking at halftime about how lackadaisical the team was playing didn’t do much good.
“They came out (second half) on fire and we didn’t respond,” Pittman said. “When that happens you’re going to lose.”
Marshall finally found some offense and battled back.
Herd forward Dennis Tinnon’s layup cut the deficit to 38-37 with 5:42 left. Tinnon made two free throws to keep it a one-point game with 4:44 to go.
Tinnon then fed Nigel Spikes for dunk and a 41-41 tie with 3:48 remaining.
Pittman, who sank seven of eight foul shots, made a pair that gave Marshall its first lead at 43-41 with 3:02 left to play.
“When I hit the two free throws I was expecting everyone to put their hard hats on and play defense,” Pittman said. “We had a breakdown on defense and they hit a shot. We just went up two, now we were back down.”
A 46-46 tie was broken by a 3-point shot from the smallest player on the court, 5-7 Delaware State guard Jabari Joyner with 58 seconds remaining.
Two more free throws by Pittman pulled Marshall within 49-48 with 43 seconds left before the Hornets closed it out with four foul shots that made Pittman’s dunk with one second to go meaningless.
Tinnon had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his fourth double-double of the season.
Freshman point guard Kelvin Amayo played for 16 minutes in his home game debut since becoming eligible at semester break and scored eight. He also had three of the Herd’s five steals. Spikes added six points with eight rebounds.
Delaware State had double-figure scoring from Casey Walker (13), Marques Oliver (12) and Tyshawn Bell (11).