Herd ends regular season with loss
GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Marshall didn't finish what it started in the second half of a Saturday men's basketball defeat at East Carolina.
Marshall took some of the steam out of the Pirates and a Senior Day crowd of 5,377 spectators in Williams Arena with a 15-4 spurt to wipe out a 10-point halftime deficit and take the lead with about five minutes left in the game. East Carolina immediately took the lead back and held Marshall off the rest of the way in an 86-79 victory.
"We played hard, we're supposed to play hard," Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. "We weren't good enough to win the game."
East Carolina (18-11 overall, 9-7 conference) knew beforehand that it would be seeded fourth with a first-round bye when the Conference USA tournament begins Wednesday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
With the loss Marshall (13-18, 6-10) fell to the No. 9 seed and plays Wednesday against the No. 8 seed -- the loser of Saturday night's Houston-Tulane game.
Saturday's defeat spoiled an outstanding individual performance by Marshall senior Rob Goff.
The 6-foot-9 Goff had 27 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals. HIs previous best scoring game in two Marshall seasons was 14 on Dec. 29, 2011 at Belmont.
"He was phenomenal," Herrion said. "He was terrific, as a senior should be coming down the stretch. Now he's got to carry that over to the conference tournament next week."
Goff was averaging 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds for the season.
He scored 14 of the Herd's first 15 in the game, but Miguel Paul and Akeem Richmond of the Pirates answered from the 3-point line.
Paul and Richmond combined for eight 3-pointers while scoring 22 and 18 respectively.
East Carolina forward Maurice Kemp added to his conference-leading 18.4 average with 21 points and Robert Sampson of the Pirates had 12 rebounds. Forward Ty Armstrong pitched in 13 points.
Goff's foul shot put Marshall ahead, 62-59, with 5:58 remaining before Paul scored the next seven with four free throws and a 3-pointer that gave the Pirates the lead, 66-62, with 4:49 left.
Herd forward Elijah Pittman rang up consecutive 3-point shots for a 68-68 tie, but East Carolina took the lead for good, 70-68, on Richmond's jump shot with 3:35 to go.
Richmond sank another 3-point shot and the Pirates made 11 of 14 free throws inside the final three minutes.
"We didn't get enough (defensive) stops when it mattered most," Herrion said.
Pittman followed Goff's lead with 21 points and Dre Kane added 20, with 18 after halftime.
Kane also had 12 assists, seven rebounds and five steals while playing for the full 40 minutes and committing five of the Herd's 14 turnovers.
Marshall had six more field goals, four more rebounds and just one more turnover than East Carolina.
The Pirates gained their advantage on 3-pointers (10-for-20) and free throws (28 of 39). Marshall hit five of 13 threes and was 14-for-20 at the foul line.