Kane leads Herd past UNCW
HUNTINGTON — Games don’t need to be pretty when you win.
Marshall’s Thundering Herd (5-3) showed it can win ugly for the second game in a row Saturday night in Cam Henderson Center. The Herd offense was off, but defenders and rebounders made the necessary plays in a 61-58 defeat of UNC Wilmington played before a Cam Henderson Center turnout of 5,689 spectators.
“We are always thrilled with a win,” Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said.
Junior guard Dre Kane, a 47.6 percent free throw shooter, made a pair with 21 seconds left that put Marshall ahead by one.
Kane then made the defensive play of the game, tipping the basketball away from UNCW guard Craig Ponder as he moved toward the basket with only five seconds remaining.
UNCW (3-4) fouled D.D. Scarver and he sank two more free throws to set the score.
“It was a tough one,” said Kane, who led the Herd with 16 points, five assists and four steals. “Coach said all games aren’t going to be pretty. It was an ugly game.
Ponder, a UNCW redshirt freshman guard from Bluefield, W.Va., fired in a personal-best 26 points for the Seahawks, who fell to 0-4 on the road.
The 6-foot-1 Ponder connected on 11 of 16 shots and was 3-for-4 on 3-point tries.
“Coming here to play in front of my family and friends, they kept pressure on me,” said Ponder, who was averaging 3.8 points a game. “They said we came to see you play and you better play good.”
Kane said the UNCW guard had a good game and shot the ball with confidence.
But, Marshall’s Elijah Pittman said the Herd was being lazy on defense and on No. 23 (Ponder).
The Herd defense had some leaks, especially in the second half when the Seahawks made 14 of 24 shots and broke from a tie game into a five-point edge.
UNCW shot 46.4 percent for the game while man-to-man and zone defenses used by the Seahawks limited Marshall to 36.4 percent.
“We broke down defensively,” Kane said.
Kane’s steal and dunk tied the teams, 28-28, at halftime after Marshall squandered an eight-point lead.
The lead went back and forth until Ponder drove for a layup that put UNCW ahead, 58-57, with 1:20 left in the contest.
Marshall gave the basketball back on a turnover by Kane, but Matt Wilson of the Seahawks missed a layup. The Herd had fouls to give and used two of them before Jamir Hanner knocked the ball loose for a UNCW turnover.
Kane missed a layup in transition and was fouled in a scramble for the rebound. Kane and Scarver made their free throws and Marshall sent its home crowd of 5,689 home happy.
“Little things. Little things,” Herrion said. “This group is resilient. They’re finding ways.”
Marshall’s scoring also included Pittman with 13, Scarver with 12 and Nigel Spikes with 10. Spikes completed a double-double with 13 rebounds and Dennis Tinnon collected 12.
Herd forward Rob Goff returned from a head injury to play for 12 minutes. Goff and Yous Mbao banged heads in a Nov. 20 practice and were hospitalized. Mbao was on the bench Saturday in street clothes.
DeVince Boykins, a redshirt freshman who was held out last season and missed the seven games this season recovering from a knee injury, made his first Herd appearance and was on the court for two minutes.
Ponder was the only UNCW player with double-figure points.
Keith Rendleman of the Seahawks, a forward averaging 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and was limited to 19 minutes on the court. He finished with nine points and six rebounds.