HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Elijah Pittman's shot really had no business going in, but that didn't stop it from doing so.
Fouled on a 3-point attempt with 4:33 left in the first half of Marshall's 79-61 win over Tulsa, Pittman's off-kilter shot fell through. Before he went to the free throw line to make it a four-point play, he walked toward the man who delivered the pass, DeAndre Kane, both their faces sporting broad smiles as they smacked hands.
Pittman joked about the shot afterward.
"Had to get my man's assists back up," he said.
It was a scene mostly absent from the Thundering Herd's previous three games because it was a performance mostly absent during that same span. Marshall was at its glass-clearing, long-bombing best in trouncing the Golden Hurricane to win its Conference USA opener and snap a brutal three-game losing streak.
"This is just the first night," Pittman said. "We have plenty more nights where we have to do the same thing."
The Herd (8-8, 1-0) plays its first conference road game at UTEP at 9 p.m. Saturday, hoping the good vibes from Wednesday's big win stick around.
They were nowhere to be found during Marshall's last three losses - by 27 at Kentucky, by two at home against Delaware State and by 37 at Ohio. With each setback, the Herd players' psyches took another punch to the gut. But the end of that slide, the team was dragging.
"It definitely started to wear on us," senior forward Robert Goff said. "You could tell by the time we got to Ohio, it had gotten worse. There was no energy and a lack of focus."
Pittman said it was time for self-reflection after the Herd's turnover-filled flop in Athens. The team had entered the season with such promise. Pundits considered it the conference's No. 2 team behind Memphis and talk of an NCAA Tournament berth was strong. But stinging losses and a sub-.500 non-conference record changed those opinions.