Marshall men's basketball: UAB edges Herd, 52-48
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – At one point during the Marshall men's basketball team's game Saturday night versus the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Thundering Herd missed 19 straight shots and went 8:12 of game time without scoring a point.
Yet it had a chance to tie the game with five seconds to go.
But Tamron Manning's 3-pointer missed the mark, like so many other shots the Herd took against the Blazers in a 52-48 loss. It was the Herd's (12-16, 5-8 Conference USA) second straight home setback and guarantees Marshall will end the regular season below .500. That hasn't happened since the Herd finished the 2008-09 regular season at 15-16 before losing to Rice in their first game of the C-USA Tournament.
While Marshall's 3-for-26 night from 3-point range – the Herd missed all 13 of its first-half 3s – might be the most glaring statistic, Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said it wasn't the only one that did the Herd in.
"Layups, 3-point shots, that's 42 field goals that we missed," Herrion said. "And we missed every conceivable shot. We missed point-blank layups, we missed 3s, we missed mid-range shots, and we missed 11 free throws.
"Tonight was a glaring example of when the ball doesn't go in, you have to find a way," Herrion added.
Marshall shot 15 for 57 from the floor (26.3 percent) for the game and 15 for 26 from the free throw line (57.7 percent).
The worst came from the last 4:09 of the first half until the 15:57 mark of the second half. During that span, the Herd couldn't score a point and at one point, Marshall missed 19 consecutive shots. The Herd trailed 36-17 with 15:58 left.
But Elijah Pittman, whose hit a free throw at the beginning of that slump, ended it with Marshall's first 3-pointer of the game with 15:57 to go. The junior forward would hit two more to spark a massive Marshall rally. The Herd would spend most of the second half chipping away while the Blazers (13-14, 5-7 C-USA) stumbled.
When Nigel Spikes drained a mid-range jumper with 2:51 left in the game, Marshall pulled into a 46-46 tie, its first since the 7:48 mark of the first half.
"There were shots we were getting in the first half that we just weren't making," said Pittman, who led all scorers with 18 points. "The shots we had in the second half we were making and it gave us a little energy, a little boost and the crowd got involved."
Marshall's started to cool off after that, trailing by as many as five with 14 seconds left. A ray of light appeared in the final seconds, as DeAndre Kane stole a UAB inbounds pass with nine seconds to go and the Herd down 51-48. But Manning's shot fell short and Quincy Taylor made one of two free throws to put the game away.
After Spikes' jumper to tie the game, Marshall missed all four of its shots from the floor and made just two of four from the free throw line.
Spikes scored nine points and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds for Marshall, while Kane scored nine points with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jordan Swing scored 15 points with 10 rebounds for UAB, while Rod Rucker scored 13 points with eight rebounds.
The Herd had its worst shooting night one game after enjoying its best, making 54.2 percent of its shots in an 82-70 win at the University of Central Florida.
"It's tough, man," Kane said. "We went down there to Orlando and played so good. I didn't think we played bad here today. We just couldn't make a shot in the first half. We turn the page and get ready for another game."
-- 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.