Herd holds off Nevada
HUNTINGTON — The lights were still on in Cam Henderson Center. The crowd of 5,583 spectators was gone.
Marshall University men’s basketball head coach Tom Herrion finished his media session and walked back toward the court.
As Herrion entered the arena about 30 minutes after the game ended he saw a solitary figure still wearing his uniform on the court shooting foul shots.
“That’s what you should write about,” Herrion said to three reporters walking with him.
Thundering Herd guard Dre Kane had missed 11 of 14 foul shots, including seven straight in the final 4:01 of an 89-82 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Some of Kane’s misfires were downright ugly, and his frustration showed, as Nevada (3-2) cut deep into a 23-point deficit and was within five points in the final minute.
Marshall (3-3) got the win, but Kane was obviously blaming himself for letting it get close.
It didn’t show in the Herd point guard’s overall performance because he had nine points, 13 assists, four rebounds, two steals and only two turnovers while playing for all but a few seconds of the game.
“He kept his head,” teammate Elijah Pittman said. “He kept distributing the ball without getting down on himself.”
Kane wasn’t the only one missing foul shots as Marshall went 17-for-34 at the line for 50 percent.
But, the team rallied without injured players Rob Goff and Yous Mbao, who knocked heads in practice Tuesday, were carted out on backboards and stretchers and were hospitalized. Goff got out of the hospital Wednesday and was on the bench in a warmup suit. Mbao marked his return with a pre-game appearance in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace.
Herrion said they had significant head injuries sustained in a basic drill that will not be used again.
“We’re happy to have them out of the hospital and on the road to recovery regardless of whether they play or not the rest of this season,” Herrion said.
Senior forward Dennis Tinnon tied his career-best of 24 points and had six rebounds. Pittman popped in 22 points, D.D. Scarver added 15 and sophomore Jamir Hanner had a career-high 10.
Center Nigel Spikes contributed 14 rebounds to a 42-35 team advantage on the boards.
Marshall made 51.6 percent of its field goals and had only seven turnovers.
Herrion said the players bounced back coming off two tough losses last weekend to South Dakota State and Hofstra.
“Two things I was certain about this week,” he said. “I thought our kids would respond and rally. You rally or you run. Our defensive effort the first 20 minutes might have been the best 20 minutes of defense we’ve played here.
“And, I thought we’d have a great turnout. The Herd Nation stepped up.”
Marshall cranked it up defensively early and rolled to a 40-24 halftime edge when Nevada was shooting just 30 percent from the field.
Nevada guards Deonte Burton and Malik Story, the only Wolf Pack players with double figure scoring averages, picked it up after halftime, but Marshall still moved out to a 64-41 lead when Kane fed Hanner for a layup with 12:39 left to play.
Burton (28 points) and Story (25) hit often enough down the stretch to make it close. Story connected for one of his five 3-point baskets to pull Nevada within 83-78 with 3:09 remaining.
Spikes quieted the Wolf Pack uprising with a dunk off another Kane feed.
After Kane missed four consecutive foul shots, Burton’s basket cut the gap to 85-50 with 58 seconds left. Tinnon answered with a pair of foul shots and Pittman finished the Herd scoring with a dunk of yet another assist from Kane.
“You get to the point where you’re sick of losing and you don’t want to lose any more games,” Tinnon said.
Marshall plays another home game at 7 p.m., Wednesday, against Morehead State (3-2). It will be the first meeting between I-64 rivals since Dec. 1, 2007.
The Herd and Golden Eagles have played 93 games, with Marshall leading the series 49-44.
Morehead State head coach Sean Woods was suspended by the school for a Monday home game against Norfolk State after he pushed one of his players during a Nov. 21 loss at No. 8 Kentucky.
Woods should be back on the bench against Marshall.