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Marshall falls to Southern Miss

MU basketball
Jan. 28, 2009 @ 02:23 AM

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Southern Miss went to a zone defense in the second half Tuesday night to derail Marshall, 84-79.

Southern Miss resorted to the zone tactics after Marshall pulled away by six at halftime of the Conference USA men's basketball game at Reed Green Coliseum.

Marshall, which made 69 percent of its shots in the opening half, connected on just 32.1 percent in the second period. Marshall made 18 shots before halftime and only nine the rest of the night. The Thundering Herd 3-point shooters were 2-for-16 in the final 20 minutes.

Thundering Herd head coach Donnie Jones said the Southern Miss zone was a big factor, "but we have to make shots."

Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy picked up a technical foul before the second half began. Damier Pitts for the Herd made two free throws, followed by Tyler Wilkerson banking in a shot and Marshall had a 10-point lead, 51-41, in the opening minute of the half.

The Golden Eagles answered with an 18-2 scoring run that turned the deficit into a 59-53 advantage on a Jeremy Wise dunk with 13:06 remaining in the game.

Courtney Beasley led the charge for Southern Miss (13-6, 3-2) with 24 points, including 18 in the second half. Andre Stephens added 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Pitts scored 18 as one of four Marshall players in double figures. Shaq Johnson followed with 16, Chris Lutz scored 14 and Wilkerson had 10. Lutz had 12 points and all of his four 3-point baskets in the first half.

Marshall (9-11, 2-4) lost for the seventh time in 10 games and is 1-10 in games away from home. The Herd opens a stretch of four consecutive home games Saturday night against UAB.

"We have regroup and put it behind us," Jones said. "I still believe in this basketball team and we'll be ready for Saturday night."

Southern Miss stretched its lead to nine on Beasley's drive for a basket with 6:48 left.

Pitts and Johnson made 3-pointers to put Marshall within 71-68 with 4:32 to go, but the Golden Eagles extended their edge back to nine on another Wise dunk with 53 seconds left.

Both teams were bothered by foul trouble despite both squads playing mostly zone defense. Marshall and Southern Miss were called for a combined 59 fouls and a total off 11 players had at least three. The Golden Eagles took advantage by converting 26 of 36 free throws. The Herd was 17 of 23.

Turnovers were another Marshall problem. The Herd committed 15 compared to only five for the Golden Eagles. Southern Miss counted 20 points as a result of Herd bobbles.

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