WVU holds off Herd
CHARLESTON — Marshall’s Thundering Herd was a few weeks early with its gift giving.
Marshall put ribbons and bows on 13 gift turnovers in the first half of the Capital Classic men’s basketball clash Wednesday night, and the West Virginia Mountaineers happily accepted. West Virginia (3-3) turned the presents into 10 easy points on its way to a 69-59 victory at the Charleston Civic Center before a crowd of 11,512 spectators.
West VIrginia also beat Marshall (5-4) on the backboards with a plus-8 rebound advantage.
And, the Mountaineers came out ahead by a wide margin in foul shots. WVU was 24-for-30 at the free-throw line for 80.0 percent. Marshall made 12 of 22 for 54.5 percent.
“I’m not sure West Virginia beat us tonight,” Marshall coach Tom Herrion said. “No disrespect. We contributed mightily to the loss.”
West Virginia’s second consecutive win in the series padded its all-time record against Marshall to 30-11. The Mountaineers are 19-5 playing against the Herd in Charleston.
In a scenario that could almost be predicted, the intensity reached a high level late in the contest, and some tempers flared.
West Virginia took a 51-40 lead on a Deniz Kilicli jump shot with 8:54 remaining, but Marshall pulled within 51-46 on Elijah Pittman’s 3-point field goal with 7:14 left to play.
D.D. Scarver hit a 3-pointer and Nigel Spikes scored on a layup that kept the Marshall deficit at 59-54 with 1:58 to go.
Kilicli, who led WVU with 21 points, made it 61-54 with a layup. Players were battling for position in the lane and one of the Mountaineers appeared to land on Herd forward Rob Goff.
Some pushing and shoving followed. Referees broke up the scuffle and went to the replay monitor to sort it all out.
Goff was called for a flagrant foul and ejected. West Virginia players Aaric Murray, Terry Henderson, Jabarie Hinds and Eron Harris were also ejected for leaving the bench. Spikes and Gary Browne of the Mountaineers received technical fouls.
“I’m still befuddled on the whole thing,” Herrion said in response to a question about what had happened. “It’s hard for me to understand exactly how that unfolded.”
Herrion said he would need to consult with the Conference USA supervisor of officials before knowing if any additional punishment would come from it.
Browne shot free throws for the technical on Spikes and made two, putting West Virginia ahead, 63-54, with 1:35 left in the game.
West Virginia’s Juwan Staten picked up a technical foul on the next play when he was fouled by Dre Kane away from the basket, but continued to the rim and missed a dunk. Scarver’s two foul shots on that technical put Marshall within 63-56 with 51 seconds remaining.
With West Virginia leading by nine again, Marshall forward Elijah Pittman missed a 3-point shot from the left side. A foul was called on Jamir Hanner in the lane. Pittman went to one of the referees complaining that he was fouled and another technical was called.
“It all built up from the beginning,” Pittman said. “I’ve got to control my emotions.”
Scarver’s 17 points led Marshall. Pittman and Kane followed with 16 and 13 respectively. Spikes had seven points and eight rebounds.
Marshall tightened its grip on the basketball after the early bobbles and finished the night with 17 turnovers.
Three of the turnovers occurred in the closing minutes of the opening period when the Mountaineers extended a three-point edge to 31-25 at the break.That was the bottom line for Herrion.
“We got shook,” he said. “We turned it over every way possible.”
Kilicli and Kane were recipients of Eddie Barrett Most Outstanding Player of the Game awards for their schools. The late Barrett of Huntington was an athletic administrator at both schools.
For only the second time since the annual game was moved permanently to Charleston in 1992, it wasn’t played in January or February when both teams are heavy into their conference schedules. The change was made to accommodate WVU’s move to the Big 12 and a contracted non-conference game with Purdue.
It was the second matchup this calendar year. West Virginia beat Marshall, 78-62, on Jan. 18.
Marshall’s next game is Saturday at home against Coppin State (1-7), a Baltimore school in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Veteran head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell has gulded the Eagles to more than 400 wins and four NCAA tournament appearances in 27 seasons at his alma mater.
Michael Murray, a 6-5 junior forward, had 27 points and 12 rebounds Tuesday when St. Joseph’s defeated Coppin State, 67-55. Murray averages 12.4 points and 10.9 rebounds.