Marshall's tenacity on glass wins game
HUNTINGTON - Following Wednesday's 70-67 win over Morehead State, the first word out of Marshall coach Tom Herrion's mouth explaining the game was "grinder."
And on a night when the offense didn't have its best and the Eagles kept clawing back, it was the big guys down low who took the game squarely on their shoulders and gave the Herd its hard-fought win.
Marshall's starting frontcourt of Dennis Tinnon and Nigel Spikes combined for 25 points and 25 rebounds with 12 of those boards coming on the offensive end in the victory.
Against a Morehead State team that is known for its defensive pressure and ability to force turnovers, the Herd's big men down low kept tough possessions alive and helped the Herd maintain its lead despite a less-than-stellar night from the floor.
"Everyone says making plays is making a shot," Herrion said. "Making plays is getting an offensive rebound, stick-back, foul. You know how much that breaks a team's back?
"You shoot, you go get one, you go get two and then they foul you on the third shot. They're climbing a mountain. There were some grown men in there tonight."
Tinnon finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds and set the tone early for Marshall. He grabbed 11 rebounds and chipped in with six points during a first half in which Marshall went to the locker room with a 24-23 lead despite shooting just 26.5 percent from the floor.
"They're not a great offensive shooting team, but they do a great job of using their athleticism and being tenacious on the offensive glass," Morehead State coach Sean Woods said. "I thought that hurt us."
Following Tinnon's first-half performance, Morehead State made a concerted effort to find him - even using two guys to follow him once a shot went up.
That's when Spikes took over.
Spikes had seven points and six rebounds - four offensive - in the second half to help keep the Herd in front.
"It helps me out a lot," Spikes said. "It's safe to say he rebounds better than me, so when they double him, I can just get at the loose ball."
The crowd of 5,877 at Cam Henderson Center took notice, applauding Spikes' effort each time he came off the floor for a breather.
Herrion also praised the effort of his senior big man, who has overcome a multitude of injuries during his Herd career.
"A healthy Nigel Spikes is what we've been talking about and we're reaping some of those benefits," Herrion said.
As a team, Marshall finished with 24 offensive rebounds in the contest. Even though that only translated to 12 second-chance points, Herrion reiterated the demoralization of the opposition each time the Herd grabbed its own miss after 35 seconds of solid defense by the Eagles.
"I'll go home tonight sleeping pretty good," Herrion said. "If we get 24 offensive rebounds, we'll get a heck of a lot more second-chance points throughout the rest of the year."
Especially with fellow frontcourt players Robert Goff and Yous Mbao currently out due to injuries, the combined 25-point, 25-rebound effort is something the Herd can use each time it takes the court.