Herd bounces Lancers, 81-47
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University’s overwhelming size and smothering defense were too much for the Longwood Lancers.
Marshall used that combination, along with a dominant rebounding performance and some balanced scoring, to record an 81-47 victory Friday night against Longwood on the 100th opening night of Thundering Herd men’s basketball in Cam Henderson Center. Attendance was 5,472.
The Herd (1-0) has the tallest team in Conference USA and one of the tallest in the nation with an average height of 6-feet, 5.2 inches and seven players standing 6-8 or more.
Coach Tom Herrion started a lineup of 6-foot-4 Dre Kane and 6-4 D.D. Scarver at the guards, 6-8 Dennis Tinnon and 6-9 Rob Goff at the forwards and 6-10 Nigel Spikes at center. Add 6-9 Elijah Pittman, 6-8 Jamir Hanner, 6-9 J.P. Kambola and 7-2 Yous Mbao coming off the bench, and that’s tall.
“There’s not 10 teams in college basketball as big as that team,” said Longwood coach Mike Gillian.
Marshall owned the backboards to the tune of 48-27 and pounded the Lancers on points in the paint, 38-22.
Kane and Scarver both netted 18 points for the Herd, which sputtered a bit offensively in the early stages before getting in a groove. Marshall committed 19 turnovers, but heated up after halftime to finish with a 50.9 percent shooting performance.
Marshall’s defense was on all night, except for the closing minutes when the Lancers reduced the deficit against some Herd reserve players.
Longwood made just 29.8 percent of its shots.
“Ninety-five percent of the game our defense was outstanding,” Herrion said.
Kane, who sat out an exhibition game because of a coach’s decision, returned to play the most minutes (32) and performed up to his All-CUSA standards with his scoring, four rebounds, eight assists, three blocked shots and one steal.
Overall, Kane said it was a good opening night, particularly on the defensive end.
“Last year we were last on defense in several categories,” Kane said. “Before the game, coach put it on the board and stressed that we had to get locked in defensively and we did that. We were good.”
Marshall scored nine consecutive points late in the first half to extend its advantage to 19 points and went in at halftime leading 35-20. Kane made four free throws in the run,
Spikes dunked off an offensive rebound and sophomore guard Chris Martin fired in a 3-point shot from the wing.
Scarver buried three consecutive 3-point shots during an 11-0 spurt of the second half when the Herd salted it away.
“I just came out playing with confidence,” said Scarver, a junior college All-American last season at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas.
Spikes added nine rebounds and made five steals. Goff tacked on nine more rebounds.
If there was a downside to the victory, it was the recurring problem with missing foul shots. Marshall made just 17 of 28 free throws, but was 5-for-5 in the second half.
“We finally settled in and made some foul shots like I know we can,” Herrion said.
Marshall also committed 19 turnovers, which Herrion said will be addressed.
The Herd is back on the practice court Saturday morning before flying to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m., Sunday, meeting with the Villanova Wildcats from the Big East Conference.
Villanova also opened at home Friday with a victory, beating District of Columbua, 78-58.