Marshall basketball: Herd rebounds against, wins over Morehead State
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- There weren't many areas of the box score that looked pretty for the Marshall men's basketball team after Wednesday night's clash against Morehead State. But there were two - the rebounding totals and the final score.
The Thundering Herd pulled down 53 boards, including 24 off the offensive glass, to wrestle the game away from the Eagles, 70-67.
It was tough and physical and at times ugly, but Coach Tom Herrion said it was the type of game the Herd (4-3) needed.
"I love grinders," Herrion said. "Those are the type of games you get a lot better in. You find ways. We hung our hats tonight on defense. I'll really feel good walking out of my office later tonight that we can win with rebounding and defense."
The Eagles (4-3) came up with a defensive stop of their own in the final seconds to make the Herd sweat. After a Devon Atkinson 3-pointer cut Marshall's lead to three with 5 seconds left, Morehead State pressured the inbounds pass and forced a turnover. Bakari Turner's 3-pointer from the corner, however, missed its mark and DeAndre Kane corralled the ball to run out the clock.
"We attacked the boards hard today," said center Nigel Spikes, who scored 13 points for Marshall. "Everybody did, Dennis (Tinnon) especially, but that's what he does. He just grabs rebounds."
Tinnon led all players with 16 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds, but he wasn't the only member of the Herd that was tough on the glass. Spikes pulled down nine rebounds, while Kane grabbed eight from the guard spots and Jamir Hanner had six rebounds. Marshall outrebounded Morehead 53-46, but there were times that the margin was much wider.
"They did what they normally do, which is their makeup of attacking the offensive glass," said Eagles Coach Sean Woods, who returned Wednesday from a one-game suspension arising from an in-game altercation with a player. "They're not a great shooting team, but they do a great job of using their athleticism and being tenacious on the offensive glass."
The Herd also bested the Eagles in an unusual area - the free throw line. Marshall hit 28 of 44 free throws Wednesday to Morehead's eight on 16 tries. Herrion knew that the Eagles' aggressive defensive style would lead to fouls, and they did. Morehead committed 32. So Herrion got the ball into guard D.D. Scarver's hands on the inbounds plays, and the junior made 12 of 13 from the line and led Marshall with 17 points.
"I knew he would make them," Herrion said. "I didn't feel, I knew he would make them. He's a really good shooter."
Marshall won despite shooting worse than the Eagles from the floor and 3-point range. The Herd shot 33.3 percent from the floor to Morehead's 36.6 percent and made only two of 17 3-pointers while the Eagles hit seven of 16.
Marshall's first half mostly was spent trying to find the basket, to no avail. The Herd went more than 8 minutes without a basket. Nigel Spikes scored on a layup with 16:35 left in the first half and it wasn't until Dennis Tinnon's layup with 8:28 left that Marshall scored again from the floor. At one point, Marshall was shooting 16.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the Eagles weren't faring much better, but it was enough to stay ahead. Morehead State hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half, including one by Jarrett Stokes with 8:15 left in the half to give the Eagles their largest lead of the half, 17-10.
Then the Eagles had their turn dealing with a scoring drought. Morehead State went nearly 6 minutes without a basket at the end of the half, and the Herd went on a 10-0 run for a 24-21 lead. Marshall finally turned its fortunes around at the free throw line, hitting four in a row. Two of those came from Kane.
The junior, who went 3-of-14 from the line in Marshall's win over Nevada, missed his first two free throws of the night. The two he made with 1:25 left in the half were met with loud cheers from the Marshall crowd.
Kane shot just five for 20 from the floor Wednesday, but had seven assists to go with his eight rebounds. He finished with 13 points. Tinnon scored 12 for Marshall. Stokes led Morehead with 14 points.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.