The fight was there for the Marshall men's basketball team. In the end, though, the shots weren't.
After a crushing 56-point loss to Southern Mississippi, the Thundering Herd stood toe-to-toe with the Memphis Tigers. But the Herd couldn't get shots to fall in the final minutes and fell to 0-7 on the road this season with a 73-72 loss at FedEx Forum.
Down by as many as 10 in the game, the Herd (9-11, 2-3 Conference USA) got as close as 70-69 on a Dennis Tinnon layup with 1:18 left. Marshall had four chances to tie the game or take its first lead in the final 45 seconds, but missed all four shots. Chris Crawford tacked on a pair of insurance free throws, and a DeAndre Kane 3-pointer with time running out gave the Tigers (16-3, 5-0 C-USA) their final margin of victory.
Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said during Saturday's postgame show he wasn't happy with the loss, but he did like his team's competitiveness.
"They had tremendous fight today, just battled their brains out," he said. "They were resilient, just kept battling and battling. We showed today what our character is all about."
It was a seismic shift from Marshall's performance Wednesday at Southern Miss, when the Herd trailed by 40 in the first half and Herrion was puzzled by his team's lack of effort. That spirit wasn't a problem Saturday. Marshall's free throw shooting down the stretch, though, was.
The Herd made its first five free throws, but made only six of its last 12 to finish at 64.7 percent. The Tigers shot slightly worse (64.3 percent), but shot more (28) and made more (18). Marshall did help itself by cutting down on turnovers. After committing a season-high 31 against Southern Miss, Marshall had just 13 against Memphis.
Kane led all scorers with 22 points, while D.D. Scarver, who hit a trio of 3-pointers to help Marshall pull closer late in the game, scored 20. Joe Jackson led Memphis with 16 points and Adonis Thomas added 15.
Marshall heads back to Huntington for back-to-back home games. The Herd hosts Southern Methodist Wednesday at 7 p.m., then the University of Central Florida on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. Marshall won its first two conference home games, against Tulsa and East Carolina, by 18 and 21 points, respectively.
"I thought we played nose-to-nose and punch-to-punch today," Herrion said. "The challenge is to do that night in, night out with 11 games left in conference play."