MU's opening win brings mixed signals
HUNTINGTON — It was a good, bad and indifferent performance all in one for Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball Friday night.
Marshall recorded an 85-69 victory over South Carolina State to open the season and afterward Herd head coach Tom Herrion made a comparison of his inexperienced team to an artistic composition.
“We’re no mosaic or oil painting, by any stretch,” Herrion said. “We’re more like water colors.”
Seven players were on the court for the first time in Marshall uniforms. Of that group, only sophomore forward TyQuane Goard has NCAA Division I playing experience. Goard appeared in 29 games for the Ohio Bobcats in the 2011-12 season.
Marshall got off to a slow start — misfiring on too many attempted 3-point shots against a zone defense and also missing numerous gift foul shots — before gathering some steam and leading by 14 at halftime. The lead reached 32 points with 9:11 left in the game and South Carolina State reduced the margin.
Herrion said the Herd’s pressure defense wore the Bulldogs down in the second half.
He wasn’t happy that Marshall didn’t finish the game well.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start, but in order to press you have to score and our offense wasn’t clicking early as we were too quick and a little hesitant,” Herrion said. “We knew they would play zone, but we just took shots too early in the shot clock and took way too many threes.
“I was a little disappointed with us taking our foot of the gas at the end.”
Marshall’s most experienced player, senior forward Elijah Pittman pumped in 31 points, grabbed three rebounds, made four steals and blocked one shot Friday. He made 9 of 17 shots and burned the zone with five 3-pointers in 11 tries.
Pittman was in rhythm and had a great night, Herrion said.
“When he’s open he’s got to shoot,” Herrion said.
Freshman forward Ryan Taylor added 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks while freshman point guard Kareem Canty had 15 points, five assists and two steals.
But, Pittman also was 8-for-15 on free throw attempts as one of Marshall’s problem areas last season showed up again in a 63.4 percent performance at the line.
Marshall’s 40.6 percent overall shooting included making just seven of 30 from the 3-point line.
South Carolina State (0-1) out-rebounded Marshall by a plus-5 advantage. All Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference forward Matthew Hezekiah led the Bulldogs with 19 points and forward Darryl Palmer had eight rebounds.
Marshall (1-0) returns to its home court for a 7 p.m. Tuesday game against the University of Rio Grande from Gallia County, Ohio. Rio Grande, coached by Huntington native Ken French, is 2-0 with wins over Indiana University-Kokomo (83-73) and Miami (Ohio)-Hamilton (121-72).
Rio Grande is an NAIA member of the Mid-South Conference.
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