Poor shooting doomed Herd
HUNTINGTON -- As poorly as Marshall shot the ball Saturday, winning was still possible.
But, after pulling even with UAB at 46-46 with 2:51 left to play, the Thundering Herd men's basketball team missed its final four field goal attempts -- all on 3-point tries -- committed one turnover and made two of four free throws that allowed the Blazers to win, 52-48, in Cam Henderson Center.
"Defense was good enough to win," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said.
Marshall (12-16, 5-8 Conference USA) had a season-worst 26.3 shooting performance that included 19.4 percent in the first half, and in a stretch of play spanning both halves missed 20 consecutive attempts. UAB used zone defense for most of the game and Marshall chucked it up from outside where it was only three of 26 on 3-point shots.
Elijah Pittman and D.D. Scarver are the Herd's best 3-point shooters and combined to make just three of 18 -- Pittman 3-for-11 and Scarver 0-for-7.
Throw in Dre Kane missing all five of his 3-point shots and it was a bad game all around.
Marshall also made only 15 of 26 foul shots.
"We were so inefficient on offense," Herrion said. "We missed 42 field goals and 11 free throws . It wasn't just three-point shooting. How about if you make half of your missed foul shots?"
UAB (13-14, 5-7) moved past Marshall in the standings and its season sweep of the Herd will be good if a tie-breaker is needed to decide C-USA tournament seedings.
Here's the deal for Marshall: The Herd is ninth in the standings -- or eighth when you remove UCF which is not eligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions -- with three games left to play.
Marshall's next game is Saturday at Houston (4-8). The Cougars have a Wednesday game first at UTEP.
Then the Herd plays a March 5 home game against Southern Miss and ends the regular season March 9 at East Carolina.
A top-five finish is necessary to secure a first-round bye in the C-USA tournament that is March 13-16 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
UAB, which didn't shoot very well either at 30.2 percent for the game, took a 30-17 halftime lead and stretched it to 36-17 early in the second half.
Pittman made Marshall's first 3-point shot with 15:57 remaining -- one of three in a row he made in a 15-0 spurt that brought the Herd back to within 36-32 with 12:11 left.
"We made shots in the second half and got the energy and the crowd got involved," Pittman said. "There was no pressure. We just needed to hit shots."
The season-high home crowd of 6,614 spectators was really into it when Kane's layup put Marshall within two and a jump shot by Nigel Spikes created the 46-46 tie.
Pittman was Marshall's only double-figure scorer with 18 and Spikes grabbed 15 rebounds.
UAB's Jordan Swing posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rod Rucker added 13 points for the Blazers.