Marshall men's basketball: Herd edges UNCW, 61-58
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – DeAndre Kane's voice echoed through the halls of the Cam Henderson Center, growing louder as he joined a post-game press conference already in progress.
"Who said? Who said I can't make my free throws?" the Marshall junior guard called out as he walked through the media room door. "I told you I was going to make my free throws when it matters."
That he did – and more – in the Marshall men's basketball team's 61-58 win Saturday over the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Kane, who had hit just three of seven free throws against UCNW, stepped to the line with 21.1 seconds left in the game to hit two in a row and give the Thundering Herd (5-3) a 59-58 lead over the Seahawks (3-4). Then, with about five seconds left, he poked the ball away from Bluefield native Craig Ponder. D.D. Scarver came up with the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws of his own with 1.7 seconds left to seal the game.
"No doubt that those two were going down with Kane," Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. "No doubt. You can chuckle. You can roll your eyes. He made two winning plays."
That those two plays needed to be winning plays was a little surprising, considering the Herd handled well the post duo of senior leading scorer and rebounder Keith Rendleman (16.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) and sophomore Cedric k Williams (6.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg). Rendleman was in foul trouble most of the game and finished with nine points, while Williams finished with four.
It was the redshirt freshman Ponder, a Bluefield High graduate, that did all the damage. Ponder averaged just 3.8 points per game entering Saturday night, but scored a game-high 26, including hitting three of four from 3-point range. As a team, UNC-W shot 58.3 percent from the floor in the second half.
"It was a lot of layups," said Kane, Marshall's leading scorer Saturday with 16, "a lot of layups. We broke down defensively and wasn't stepping up to the plate. But we got a stop when we needed it."
Seahawks Coach Buzz Peterson said that, despite Ponder's modest numbers in games, he had a feeling that type of performance was there.
"I've seen it in him in practice," Peterson said. "I knew he could do it. It was just a matter of time. I'm glad he picked today to do it. I wish we would've gotten the win for him."
Marshall didn't help itself by running cold for most of the game. The Herd started the contest hitting seven of eight shots. It finished the game making just 20 of 55 shots (36.4 percent). Marshall hit four of its first five 3-pointers, but made just one of its final 12. Herrion said the Herd has to work on its offense, especially in scoring just 14 second-chance points on 18 offensive rebounds.
"We can't finish anything," Herrion said. "We've got to address that. We've got to be able to score around the basket – stick-backs, layups, power layups. But we found a way."
Elijah Pittman scored 13 points for Marshall, while Nigel Spikes scored 10 and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Dennis Tinnon grabbed 12 rebounds with seven points and Scarver finished with 12 points. Ponder was the Seahawks' only double-digit scorer.
The Herd goes back to practice until Wednesday's 7:30 p.m. showdown with West Virginia University in the Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.
-- Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall.