Herd dominates ECU, 77-56
HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Thundering Herd treated its largest home crowd of the season to a defensive clinic Saturday night.
East Carolina came to town averaging 78.8 points a game and with 80 or more four times in its last five games, but didn’t scratch those numbers because of what Marshall guard Dre Kane said was a locked-in defensive performance.
Marshall rolled to a 77-56 men’s basketball victory before a Cam Henderson Center turnout of 6,056 spectators.
“We defended,” Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said. “Our defense set the tone. Our defense was outstanding for the majority of the game.”
And, the offense wasn’t shabby either. Marshall had leads of 12-0, 18-2, 27-4 and 38-13 in the first half.
Any doubt about the outcome was erased after East Carolina’s six-point run to begin the second half was answered by Marshall going on an 8-0 spree to take a 51-29 advantage with more than 16 minutes remaining in the game.
Marshall, which pulled away 67-38 with more than eight minutes to go, squared its season record at 9-9 and is 2-1 in Conference USA.
“They took it right to us from the beginning,” said East Carolina head coach Jeff Lebo. “They had us on our heels. I thought they were ready to play and they deserved to win this game. Their size and strength was a huge factor in this game.
“We couldn’t finish. We missed a lot of easy ones at the rim. They came out with the right mindset.”
Kane led the Herd with 22 points, eight assists and three steals. Elijah Pittman scored 19, including 13 to lead the first-half charge, and made four steals.
Dennis Tinnon and D. D. Scarver both scored 11. Tinnon completed a double-double performance with 12 rebounds while Nigel Spikes collected 11. Rob Goff contributed six points and six rebounds from off the Herd bench.
Marshall had its best shooting performance (47.6 percent) in about two months and committed 13 turnovers.
East Carolina (11-6, 2-1) made only 32.8 percent of its shots and forward Maurice Kemp, the C-USA scoring leader with an 18.3 average was limited to 10 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
Kemp, at 6-foot-7 and about 185 pounds, had a tough night against Marshall with Pittman, Tinnon, Spikes and Goff all standing at least 6-8.
“He got beat around tonight with those big bodies at the rim,” Lebo said.
The Pirates won the rebound battle by plus-5 with Robert Sampson grabbing 17, but Herrion said some of that was because the Herd was switching men on defense more than it normally does.
Marshall compensated for its rebound deficiency by going plus-nine in assists and plus-five in turnovers to win for the first time in six games this season when it was outrebounded.
Miguel Paul of the Pirates scored 17 and fouled out with 2:25 left in the game. Sampson and Akeem Richmond both added 10 points.
Shooting foul shots was an adventure for both teams. Marshall was ranked near the bottom of the nation at 58.8 percent for the season and slumped to a season-low 43.5 percent (10-for-23). East Carolina, which normally makes 69.2 percent, hit 10 of 21 for 47.6 percent.
Kane moved past Bunny Gibson and Travis Young to 24th on the Marshall career list with 1,728 points.
Scarver connected on three of eight 3-point attempts and has made at least one in every game this season. Pittman (0-for-2) failed to make a 3-pointer for the first time.
Marshall freshman Tamron Manning fouled out with 5:41 left in the game.