Herd wins with balanced attack
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall's Thundering Herd was efficient on offense, played good defense and crashed the backboards Saturday night.
As a result, Marshall squared its record at 3-3 with an 89-82 men's basketball victory over Nevadad played in front of a crowd of 5,583 spectators in Cam Henderson Center.
Offensively, Marshall shot 51.6 percent from the field and had 19 assists on 33 baskets. Four players scored in double figures, led by Dennis Tinnon and Elijah Pittman with 24 and 22, respectively. The only negative was 17-for-34 free throw shooting.
Defensively, the Herd shut down the Wolf Pack (3-2), especially in the first half.
"I honestly feel it could have been our best 20 minutes of defense since I've been here," said third-year Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. "We locked in and took them out of anything they wanted to run."
Rebounding was another area of strength. Nigel Spikes pulled down 14 rebounds as Marshall won the board battle, 42-35.
Nevada made a second-half run fueled by guards Deonte Burton (28 points) and Malik Story (25), but it was too little too late. Forward Devonte Elliott added 13 points and had seven rebounds.
Wolf Pack coach David Carter said he didn't have enough players chipping in.
"Marshall played very well," Carter said. "They were very prepared, and they shot the ball very well This was by far the most athletic team we'll play. They got the key rebounds when they needed them."
Carter said Pittman and Herd guard Dre Kane made two of the most important plays.
Nevada trailed 71-62 with 7:13 remaining when Pittman did some work.
Pittman made a catch, put a ball fake on a defender and went to the basket for a score. He was fouled and completed a three-point play.
It was Kane's turn shortly after that. Kane drove for a basket and also converted a three-point play that put Marshall (3-3) ahead, 77-64, with 6:04 left.
The third big play among all the plays was made by Kane and Nigel Spikes after Nevada pulled to within 83-78 with 3:09 to go.
Marshall worked some time off the clock with Kane controlling the ball. As the 35-second shot clock ticked down toward zero, Kane fed Spikes for a dunk, giving Marshall a seven-point cushion with 2:25 left to play.
"Big play to Nigel on the dunk off the screen and roll with the late shot clock," Herrion said.
Free throw shooting continues to be a problem for Marshall, which slumped to 60 percent for the season.
Kane had an interesting stat line, shooting 3-for-14 on field goal attempts while also going 3-for-14 at the foul line. The junior guard missed seven consecutive foul shots late in the game. His overall performance was solid with nine points, 13 assists, four rebounds two steals and two turnovers while playing for nearly the full 40 minutes at the point guard position.
Nevada scored a lot of points in the second half on transition after the Herd missed foul shots.
"Sometimes you don't realize it when you're watching the game, but it's actually easier to run off a missed free throw," Herrion said. "We have a shooter and two guys in the foul lane for rebounding. When we miss so many of them, there's already an advantage built in.
"They outscored us with way too many points in the second half. That's unacceptable for us to give up that many points."
Marshall played without forward Rob Goff and center Yous Mbao who suffered significant head injuries when they collided during a Tuesday practice drill.
Herrion said he was thrilled to have them out of the hospital and on the road to recovery.
The Herd is also missing guard DeVince Boykins, who has returned to practice following a knee injury. Boykins hasn't played in any games.