Herd beats UCF 75-71
HUNTINGTON — Dunking is usually a sure way to get two points.
But, not Saturday afternoon. Not with Marshall Thundering Herd center Nigel Spikes in the lane.
UCF forward Kasey Wilson tried to dunk twice on Spikes and was rejected both times.
Spikes turned in a monster performance with nine blocked shots, 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in Marshall’s 75-71 men’s basketball defeat of UCF in Cam Henderson Center. A turnout of 5,856 spectators who braved snow and icy roads to get there roared each time the Herd’s 6-foot-10 senior center swatted a shot by the Knights.
The 46.5 percent free throw shooter also made five of six attempts.
“We were desperate today and that’s how we played,” Spikes said. “I wouldn’t back down either, but he wasn’t going to dunk on me or anything like that.”
Marshall halted a losing streak at three games and is 10-12 for the season and 3-4 in Conference USA The Herd won with good defense and its best shooting report card of the season at 51.9 percent against a UCF team that had won its last four and nine of 12.
Herd head coach Tom Herrion said it was a really good win against a really good team.
“We made some big plays down the stretch which you have to do against a good team in a great game, and that’s obviously a rivalry-type of game with a really nice atmosphere.
“A good bounce back for our kids, and I’m proud of them.”
UCF (15-6, 5-2) made its final Huntington appearance before joining the Big East Conference next season.
The game began with Marshall fans booing UCF head coach Donnie Jones, who left the Herd to lead the Knights in 2010, but settled in to watch a contest that turned into a grinding affair that had 16 lead changes and was tied 11 times.
Herd forward Elijah Pittman had 20 points, D.D. Scarver tacked on 16 points with one 3-point field goal and Dennis Tinnon scored 13.
C-USA preseason player of the year selection Keith Clanton led the Knights with 24 points and nine rebounds. Guard Calvin Newell followed with 19 points and Isaiah Sykes had 10.