Herd recovered quickly at UNC Wilmington
HUNTINGTON -- Coach Tom Herrion knew exactly what the Marshall University men's basketball team was facing in its first road game this season.
Herrion took seven of his players on their first road trip to UNC Wilmington on Tuesday. After a few anxious moments early in the game, Marshall settled down and logged a 69-64 victory over the Seawhawks in their home opener at Trask Coliseum.
UNCW had 8-0 and 12-3 leads in the opening five minutes.
"With young people you tell them there's a tree in the road and they don't believe it until they hit it," Herrion said."I knew how hungry they (Seahawks) were and how hard they would play."
Now, the stakes get higher when Marshall, 4-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, visits the Cincinnati Bearcats (3-1) for a 7 p.m., Friday, game in Fifth Third Arena. The game will air on the ESPN3 online streaming network.
Marshall and Cincinnati are both receiving Top 25 votes in The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls.
Herrion said notching that first road victory was a good learning experience.
Marshall guards Damier Pitts and Dre Kane combined for 40 points. Marshall took the lead, 19-18, on a Pitts layup with 5:51 remaining in the first half and Kane scored the Herd's next seven points. UNCW (0-3) trailed the rest of the way, but pulled within 45-41 with 11:47 left to play.
Pitts, who netted 21, scored 17 of the Herd's final 24 points. Kane scored 14 of his 19 in the first half.
"Coach told us to keep our poise," Kane said. "They're a good team and we kept our composure."
Marshall's big men got in foul trouble, forcing Herrion to use a four-guard alignment with Kane situated in the high post.
Pitts said having four guards on the court helps the running game, but causes some problems with rebounding. The Herd won the rebound contest by only a 33-31 margin.
The Pitts-Kane backcourt duo combined to make 12 of 19 field goal attempts and fueled Marshall's best shooting performance of the season, 22 of 46 for 47.8 percent.
"They had some matchup problems," Kane said.
Kane's 16.5 scoring average leads the team and he's joined in double figures by Pitts with 13.0 per game.
Marshall is scoring 69.2 a game and giving up 54.5. UNCW's point total was the most Marshall has allowed.
"Defense was OK," Herrion said. "It was good enough."
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