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Coleman responds to coach's call with impressive outing

Dec. 18, 2011 @ 11:15 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Belmont University of Nashville, Tenn., is regarded as one of the best mid-major men's basketball programs in the nation.

And, Marshall University plays the Bruins twice this season.

The first meeting is 7 p.m., Monday, in Cam Henderson, the second game of three in a five-day stretch for the Thundering Herd.

"It's going to be another test for our team, no doubt about it," said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion, who also lined up a Dec. 29 game at Belmont.

Marshall pushed its record to 7-2 with Saturday's 79-59 victory over High Point (3-7) played before a home crowd of 5,564.

Freshman guard Justin Coleman had his best performance of the season in his second consecutive start. Coleman had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, five rebounds and two assists.

A personal run of eight straight Coleman points put the Herd ahead in the first half. Coleman played well because he's practiced well and responded to a challenge, Herrion said.

"He's been talking to me a lot about practicing hard," Coleman said. "I just tried to do what he told me and it worked."

Marshall had a 37-31 halftime cushion and needed it when High Point guard Nick Barbour went on a tear and lifted the Panthers to within 63-55 with 6:42 remaining.

Barbour, who netted 22 points, sank four 3-point shots in a row and Shay Shine (14 points) scored on a layup that cut the deficit to 61-52. After two foul shots by Marshall guard Dre Kane, Barbour drew a foul on a 3-point shooting attempt and made three foul shots.

Kane picked up four fouls guarding Barbour, including a call on the 3-point try.

"They made that run with about 10 straight and he (Herrion) told us we had to step up our defense," Kane said. "We locked in defensively and made some good stops.

"The refs called a lot of chippy fouls and that threw us off a little bit. We couldn't play how we usually play."

Coleman was one of five Marshall scorers with double figures that included Kane (14), Damier Pitts (11), Rob Goff (10) and Shaq Johnson (10). Goff had 10 rebounds and Dennis Tinnon grabbed seven, leading the Herd to a plus-12 advantage.

Marshall didn't have a great shooting night against the High Point zone defense at 44.8 percent from the field and just 25.8 percent on 3-pointers (8 for 31), but was its usual strong self on the boards.

"They missed a bunch of them," said Panthers head coach Scott Cherry. "The problem is they went and got 18 of them back (on offensive rebounds)."

Kane held his team lead with a 15.2 scoring average and Pitts is next at 14.1. Five players score at least five per game -- Tinnon (9.9), Goff (9.4), Coleman (6.3), Johnson (6.2) and Dago Pena (5.7)

Belmont (7-4) is an Atlantic Sun Conference team moving to the Ohio Valley Conference in 2012. The Bruins were 30-5 last season and made their fourth NCAA tournament appearance in six years. Head coach Rick Byrd has 525 victories in his 26th season with the team.

Kansas and Belmont are the only teams with 12 or more conference wins in each of the past nine seasons.

The Bruins average 79.4 points and 9.2 made 3-pointers a game. Guard Kerron Johnson leads a balanced offense with a 14.6 scoring average. Players scoring at least eight a game are 6-foot-6 J.J. Mann (11.8), guard Ian Clark (11.6), guard Drew Hanlen (10.2). 6-10 Scott Saunders (8.4) and 6-9 Mick Hedgepeth (8.2).

Mann, Clark and Hanlen have accounted for 71 of the team's 101 3-point baskets. Hedgepeth and Saunders are the top rebounders with 7.0 and 4.7 averages respectively.

Belmont lost Saturday at Miami (Ohio), 66-61, and has dropped two of its last three games after winning six in a row. They fell in the season opener at Duke (77-76) and took a Nov. 15 defeat at Memphis (97-81).

The Bruins trailed Miami (Ohio) by five at halftime, stayed close and moved to within 56-54 with 4:04 remaining. Their opportunity to tie or take the lead was thwarted by a turnover.

Byrd was ejected from the game with 11:37 left after asking for a clarification of a jump ball call and received technical fouls from two different officials.

Send kids to the game

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall has a ticket promotion to help kids from the Boys and Girls Club attend the 7 p.m., Monday, men's basketball game with Belmont in Cam Henderson Center.

Herd Heaven $5 tickets can be purchased and will be given away to the club. Marshall will match each special ticket purchased with one complimentary ticket for the kids.

To participate go to www.herdzone.com and use the promotional access code "HOLIDAY."

Marshall has $15 tickets for seating in Section 101 behind the Thundering Herd bench that are available while students are away for holiday break.

Regular general admission tickets are $11.

For more information call 304-606-4373 or 800-THE-HERD, or visit the Cam Henderson Center box office.

Belmont (7-4)

at Marshall (7-2)

When: 7 p.m., Monday

Where: Cam Henderson Center

Tickets: $15 and $11

Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, WRVC 930-AM and 94.1-FM, WMUL 88.1-FM.

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