Roadrunners burn Herd
SAN ANTONIO — Marshall’s Thundering Herd fell hard Thursday night in its Conference USA men’s basketball opener.
UTSA, one of the league’s new members, broke from a tie with 11:15 left to play to post a 90-81 victory in its debut game played for a turnout of 813 spectators in the Convocation Center.
The Roadrunners made shots from everywhere in a 56.6 percent shooting performance, including hitting seven of nine 3-point attempts. They pulled away after leading 41-40 at halftime by making 16 of 26 field goal attempts (61.5 percent) in the second period.
“We did not defend in any aspect,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion.
Marshall (6-10 season, 0-1 conference) has lost all eight of its games this season away from Huntington.
The Herd struggled with its shooting in a 44.6 percent showing on field goals and 17 of 29 (58.6 percent) on free throws.
UTSA (5-9 season, 1-0 conference) had a huge boost from junior guard Keon Lewis, who came in averaging 15.3 points per game but had missed the last three contests because of a head injury.
Lewis scored 23 in 22 minutes from off the bench.
Marshall point guard Kareem Canty scored the first seven of the second period to erase UTSA’s halftime lead. TyQuane Goard sank a pair of foul shots that put the Herd ahead for the final time, 49-48, with 16:35 to go.
The Roadrunners went on top by six before forward Shawn Smith led a Herd uprising. Smith dunked twice on feeds from Tamron Manning, made a steal and drove for a layup and made two foul shots that tied the score, 61-61, with 11:15 remaining.
Lewis followed with five consecutive UTSA points for a five-point advantage and Hyjii Thomas, who scored 14, drove for a layup and UTSA had a 70-63 lead and just 7:29 remained to play. Philip Jones rebounded a teammate’s airball and scored, then completed a three-point play to make it 79-67 with 4:01 left in the game.
Canty scored 26 on 9-for-22 shooting to lead the Herd and picked up 10 points in the final five minutes. Smith added 16 points and had seven rebounds. Chris Thomas had 11.
Marshall forward Ryan Taylor had eight points and eight rebounds, all in the first half. Taylor got in early foul trouble and eventually fouled out.
Goard and Smith also fouled out for the Herd.
“With the foul trouble we got small very quick,” Herrion said. “We were shorthanded off the bench.”
Yous Mbao, the Herd’s 7-foot-2 backup center, didn’t play because of an ailing knee. Manning played for 24 minutes at guard after sitting out two games because of groin injury.
The contest was tight with 13 lead changes and 16 ties before UTSA went ahead with 11 minutes left. Marshall’s largest was 30-25 at 6:21 of the first half.
Marshall flies Friday across Texas for a 9:05 p.m. Saturday game at UTEP (10-6, 0-1) who lost a Thursday home game against Charlotte, 73-68.
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