Herd nearly let win slip away
HUNTINGTON -- Too many easy baskets, too many layups by UNC Wilmington nearly spoiled Marshall's night.
The visiting Seahawks (3-4) out of the Colonial Athletic Association made 14 of their 24 shots in the second half Saturday and were poised to take the lead against the Marshall Thundering Herd with time ticking down in their Cam Henderson Center men's basketball matchup.
UNCW guard Craig Ponder, who had 26 points, turned into the lane on his way to get two more.
Marshall guard Dre Kane reached from behind Ponder to tip the basketball away to Herd forward Dennis Tinnon, who threw it to teammate D.D. Scarver.
Chris Dixon of the Seahawks fouled Scarver, who made two free throws with one second left, and Marshall had a 61-58 victory.
"Just playing defense," Kane explained about forcing the turnover.
Marshall made another defensive stop just before that.
Kane's pass was intercepted by Tanner Milson with one minute remaining. UNCW ran some time off the clock and Marshall had some fouls to use because the Seahawks weren't in the bonus. Scarver fouled twice, forcing UNCW to put the ball in play again from near mid-court with 27 seconds to go.
Jamir Hanner broke up the inbounds play and Kane got the basketball. Kane missed a layup and was fouled in a scramble for the rebound.
Kane sank a pair of foul shots with 21 seconds left that gave the Herd a 59-58 lead.
"Hanner comes in on that side out," Marshall coach Tom Herrion said. "We're in a foul situation because they're not in the bonus and the shot clock is off. We go with our pressure game against them on the side out and Hanner's in there with the deflection to the steal. We miss the layup and we get fouled to go to the line to go up one.
"You've got to find ways. I thought we did."
It was that kind of a night for Marshall (5-3), which didn't make all the plays, but made enough to win its third consecutive game.
Kane had 16 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Forward Elijah Pittman, who said Kane was a "locksmith" on the late stop of Ponder, added 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. Scarver contributed 12 points while center Nigel Spikes recorded a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double.
Marshall quickly turns its focus to the annual Capital Classic game, a 7:30 p.m. Wednesday clash with the West Virginia Mountaineers (2-3) in the Charleston Civic Center.
"We came out with the victory and we move on," Kane said. "We get ready for WVU on Wednesday."
Ponder, a redshirt freshman guard from Bluefield, W.Va., had a career game playing before a large contingent of family and friends. Ponder was good on 11 of 16 shots, including 3-for-4 on 3-point attempts. Coming in, he was averaging 3.8 points and was 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
Marshall was more geared toward stopping UNCW forwards Keith Rendleman and Cedrick Williams with 16.3 and 6.7 scoring averages, respectively. Rendleman scored nine and Williams had four.
The Herd was able to get some playing time for forward Rob Goff, who sustained a head injury in a Nov. 20 practice, and redshirt freshman guard DeVince Boykins who has recovered from a knee injury. Boykins made his first college game appearance.
Goff played for 12 minutes and Boykins played two minutes.
"It's great for them to get their feet wet, especially for Boykins," Herrion said. "He hasn't played in almost two years now, since high school. I think he was more surprised that I called his number in the second half, but I wanted to get him in the game. You've got to shake the rust off.
"And Goff, same kind of thing. He was so eager. It was just good to get him back. Now we have more bodies available to us."