Marshall seniors put team over top
HUNTINGTON -- Nigel Spikes' final points in the Cam Henderson Center were the two that put Marshall ahead for good Tuesday in an 88-84 win over Southern Miss.
They also came from the free throw line. Every Thundering Herd basketball fan who has watched Spikes over the past four years knows that's not exactly where the 6-foot-10 center feels comfortable, especially with 25 ticks left on the clock.
"That's great right there, something I've been struggling with all year, and to hit two big ones to seal the game? I can't ask for anything more than that," Spikes said.
Southern Miss would get a chance to tie at the line with 16 seconds remaining, but made just one of two, and Marshall hit all but one free throw down the stretch to get a win on Senior Night against a team that had beaten the Herd by 56 on the road in January.
In a way, Spikes was finishing what fellow senior Robert Goff started.
Goff came out and went 3-for-3 from the floor, and 2-of-2 from the line, matching his season high eight points within the first four minutes of the game, opening up a 16-8 lead for Marshall.
"He gave us a lift that definitely set the tone for the game," head coach Tom Herrion said.
The shots the 6-foot-9 banger was hitting were long, smooth jumpers that came from gaps in the Eagles' zone defense.
"He can hit those, he just doesn't take them," said junior Elijah Pittman, who finished with a team-high 22 points.
Goff, who fouled out and never did get a look to surpass eight points, cracked a grin when asked about his opening performance.
"It's just what we do everyday; we work on zone shooting," he said.
Spikes said he wasn't surprised Goff came out big and fired up the team.
"When he was coming off the court after coming out with his family (for Senior Night), he definitely had a look in his eye," Spikes said.
Goff said the night was huge for the three seniors, including Dennis Tinnon, who had five points and five rebounds in the game.
"It definitely meant a lot to us, and I think you could see throughout the game it drove us," Goff said. "What they did to us in Hattiesburg, we had to show the Herd fans that wasn't us in that game."
Spikes said redemption at home was indeed a sweet feeling.
"There's no better way after they got us on the road to come back and get them at home. And on senior night? I told you all we can play."
Marshall finishes out the regular season Saturday at East Carolina, then will play in the Conference USA tournament in Tulsa, Okla.