Herd hopes to carry momentum on road
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University head coach Tom Herrion said East Carolina is an amazing comeback team, a team that plays from behind as well as anyone in the nation.
So, when East Carolina reduced Marshall's 20-point halftime lead to 14 with six quick points to begin the second half of a Saturday night men's basketball contest in Cam Henderson Center the Thundering Herd needed a wakeup call.
Herrion called a timeout with 17:44 left to play, Marshall responded with the next 11 points and was back on track for a 77-56 victory. D.D. Scarver got the run going with a 3-point shot, followed by Dre Kane's layup. Scarver made another 3-pointer before Dennis Tinnon converted a three-point play.
"I thought our energy level was low" to begin the half," Herrion said. "It took us two minutes and the timeout to get our energy level back up."
The spurt also brought Marshall's season-best home crowd of 6,056 back to life.
Marshall, now 9-9 for the season and 2-1 in Conference USA, needs to find similar energy for its next games, a road swing to Southern Miss (15-4, 4-0) on Wednesday and Memphis (14-3, 3-0) on Saturday.
Both games on the road are televised. Wednesday's 7 p.m. game at Southern Miss is on CSS (Ch. 68 on Huntington cable) while Saturday's 2 p.m. game at Memphis is an FSN broadcast (FS Ohio Ch. 31 and Root Sports Ch. 27).
"We have to be really focused and make sure we're doing the right things," Tinnon said. "Road games are hard to win."
Marshall took advantage of having a full week to prepare for East Carolina (11-6, 2-2) because of a bye in the schedule created by moving the annual West Virginia game from its normal January slot to early December.
Herrion said the team had good practices during the week while East Carolina played on Wednesday.
"I thought our preparation was outstanding," the coach said. "I thought we took advantage of managing bodies in terms of when to ease off a little bit. We looked like the fresher team.
"We were able to game plan a little longer for East Carolina, a day or two longer, with no mid-week game. We haven't had that here this early in the season because of the West Virginia game historically."
Marshall raced to a 12-0 lead and pulled away, 27-4, with 7:57 to go until halftime. Forward Elijah Pittman had 13 of his 19 points in the first half.
Pittman also helped do a good job of guarding Maurice Kemp of the Pirates.
Kemp came in as C-USA's top scorer with an 18.3 average. He scored 10 on 5-for-15 shooting.
"Elijah was guarding him most of the time," Tinnon said. "We put good pressure on him. We kept him out of his comfort zone and took away his right driving, which he loves to do."
Kane scored 22 while Scarver and Tinnon both netted 11 points. Tinnon also had 12 rebounds in the senior forward's fifth double-double performance of the season. Nigel Spikes had 11 rebounds.
East Carolina forward Robert Sampson, the son of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Ralph Sampson, collected 17 rebounds and led the Pirates to a 47-42 advantage in that category. Point guard Miguel Paul scored 17. Sampson and Akeem Richmond both added 10 points.
Marshall won for the first time in six games this season when it was outrebounded because it shot well from the field (47.6 percent), kept its turnovers down to 13 and held the league's highest-scoring team (78.3) well below its average.
The Herd could have added to the margin by making more than 10 of 23 free throw attempts. The Pirates also struggled at the foul line, making 10 of 21.