Herd shoots down Eagles
HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Thundering Hed matched its total of 46 points in an earlier game against Southern Miss with that many in the first half of Tuesday’s rematch.
The first 46 were in a 102-46 blowout win for Southern Miss.
This time Marshall tacked on 42 more in the second half of an 88-84 men’s basketball victory over the Golden Eagles on Senior Night for Rob Goff, Nigel Spikes and Dennis Tinnon in Cam Henderson Center where a turnout of 5,364 spectators saw a 60-point turnaround.
“I told you all we could play,” Spikes said. “We can play with the best of them.”
Marshall improved to 13-17 overall and is 6-9 in Conference USA with one regular season game remaining Saturday at East Carolina. Second-place Southern Miss, now 22-8 for the season and 11-4 in C-USA, might have been knocked off the bubble for NCAA tournament at-large bid consideration.
Anyone who says Marshall head coach Tom Herrion doesn’t play enough zone defense had to be shocked. Southern Miss sure appeared to be, but Golden Eagles head coach Donnie Tydall blew off his opportunity to talk about it when he was a no-show for post-game interviews.
Herrion employed a zone to accommodate a rather big Senior Night lineup with the 6-foot-9 Rob Goff, 6-10 Spikes and 6-8 Dennis Tinnon joined by 6-9 Elijah Pittman and 6-5 Dre Kane. Otherwise, Marshall might have had matchup problems.
“The zone was good to us for a while until they figured it out,” Herrion said.
Goff’s eight points in the first four minutes helped Marshall get on top. The Herd led 46-38 at halftime and took its largest lead, 52-43, with 17:24 left in the game.
Southern Miss also played a zone defense and Goff made two baseline jump shots early that gave Marshall a jolt, set the tone and raised the Herd’s confidence level, Herrion said.
Marshall’s best shooting performance of the season protected the lead until Neil Watson of the Golden Eagles took it back, 74-73, on a 3-point basket with 3:47 left to play.
Pittman rang up a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:39 remaining for a 79-76 edge.
Southern Miss guard Dwayne Davis, who netted 35 points, answered with his fifth 3-pointer that tied it for the eighth time, 79-79, with 1:03 still left to play.
Spikes, a 49.6 percent free throw shooter, sank a pair with 30 seconds to go that gave Marshall the lead, 81-79.
Southern Miss started fouling in an attempt to catch up and Marshall made nine of its final 10 attempts. in the final 12 seconds D.D. Scarver made four foul shots in a row and Pittman sank three of four.
Pittman’s 22 points led Marshall, which shot a season-best 55.1 percent from the field, went 10-for-20 on 3-point attempts and was 24 of 31 at the foul line.
“It was pretty satisfying after the beating they gave us down at Southern Miss,” Pittman said.
Scarver yielded to the seniors in his first non-start of the season and snapped out of a slump with 19 points while freshman Tamron Manning tripled his previous scoring high with 12.
Goff fouled out of his final home game with eight points and five rebounds. Spikes had seven points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Tinnon, who joined Goff and Spikes in early foul trouble, added five points and had five rebounds.
Marshall’s bench players led by Scarver and Manning outscored the Southern Miss backups, 37-7.
“That was a terrific win for our club on Senior Night for Nigel, Dennis and Rob,” Herrion said. “I thought it was a tremendous ball game, a great college basketball game. Our great and loyal fans witnessed a terrific ball game. Two really good clubs.
“We played at a really high level tonight.”
While Davis did most of the damage for Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles also had forward Jonathan Mills scoring 13 and grabbing eight rebounds and guard Jerrold Brooks scoring 12.
Southern Miss guard Neil Watson had 27 points in a Saturday win over East Carolina, but was 2-for-5 shooting and scored eight.
The Golden Eagles found some openings in the corners against the Herd zone and heated up in the second half to shoot 51.9 percent. They made 11 of 23 from the 3-point line and 17 of 30 free throws.