Marshall basketball: Herd snaps three-game skid with win in league opener
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- With every rebound and every 3-point attempt, Marshall took out three games' worth of frustration on Tulsa.
The Thundering Herd hurt the Golden Hurricane outside and swallowed it up inside, cruising to a 79-61 win Wednesday night to open Marshall's Conference USA slate and snap a three-game losing streak.
"We came in focused," said junior guard DeAndre Kane, who finished with 16 points and game-high seven assists. "We just came out with energy. We wanted to win. We wanted to get our crowd back into it."
The Herd (8-8, 1-0) used a 19-0 first-half run to pull away from the Golden Hurricane (9-7, 1-1) at the Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall led by as many as 29 after one of its best nights beyond the arc this season.
Elijah Pittman led all scorers with 19 points, while D.D. Scarver added 16 and Dennis Tinnon pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.
Marshall began the game with a vigor not seen for most of its three-game slump.
In a 28-point loss at Kentucky, a two-point home loss to Delaware State and a 37-point loss at Ohio, the Herd trudged through each vexing minute.
Against the Golden Hurricane, Marshall broke into a dead sprint with Tulsa leading 6-5.
Eight minutes and six seconds later, D.D. Scarver hit two free throws to cap 19 straight Herd points and give Marshall a 24-6 lead.
"We were able to open the floor up," Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said. "I thought we really hurt them in transition early, whether it was attacking the rim or spotting up and making some shots, which led to better defense. Our defense the first 20 minutes was pretty air-tight in my opinion."
The Herd towered over the Golden Hurricane literally and figuratively Wednesday night. Only one of Tulsa's starters stood taller than 6-foot-8, while three Marshall starters stood 6-foot-8 or taller.
Marshall used that to its advantage, dominating Tulsa 47-32 on the boards and holding the Hurricane to 36.5 percent shooting for the game.
"We just had to use our bodies and our height to get the rebounding advantage," said senior forward Robert Goff, who scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting.
"Dennis Tinnon did the best out of all of us."
Herrion agreed that the senior forward had an exceptional night. He said he told Tinnon that, with his rebounding and defense, he impacted the game more than anyone without scoring a point. Tinnon finished with six points.
It was exceptionally tough for Tulsa during Marshall's first-half barrage. The Hurricane went into halftime making just 8 of 30 shots from the floor. And the 3-pointers that saved Tulsa in its C-USA-opening win at Southern Methodist were rare against the Herd. The Hurricane made just 3 of 14 from 3-point range.
"We had our opportunities to make some 3s," Tulsa Coach Danny Manning said. "We just didn't knock any shots down in terms of looks that we got."
Meanwhile, the Herd nailed 12 3-pointers, which tied its 12 against Villanova for its season high. That included four from Kane, which tied his career high, and four from Pittman, which also tied his career high.
Big play begat big play and big shot begat big shot for the Herd on Wednesday. The momentum built with each positive to a point where even the craziest shots went in. With 4:33 left in the first half, Pittman took a pass from Kane and was fouled while throwing up an off-kilter 3-pointer. The shot was good and Pittman cashed in on the ensuing free throw as he and Kane grinned and smacked hands.
"It was good momentum to make the 3s," Pittman said. "We just have to act like we've been there before, but it was a big momentum-booster to knock down that many shots tonight instead of missing that many shots."
James Woodard and Shaquille Harrison led Tulsa with 12 points each, with Harrison dishing out a team-high five assists.
Wednesday's game also marked the return of center Yous Mbao, who had missed the last 10 games after crashing into Goff during practice and suffering a significant head injury. He finished with one rebound in three minutes.
The Herd returns to the court Saturday for its first road conference game at UTEP at 9 p.m.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.