HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall men's basketball coach Tom Herrion didn't even have to look at the stat sheet to explain his Thundering Herd's 65-57 loss Saturday to Florida Atlantic.
"We didn't defend," he said. "Didn't rebound. End of story. Game over."
The Owls beat the Herd 37-29 on the boards and shot 53.2 percent from the floor (25 of 47) to keep Marshall (8-15, 2-6 Conference USA) from winning consecutive games for the first time since November. The Herd's last back-to-back wins came Nov. 23 against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Nov. 26 against Western Kentucky.
After trailing by 14 with 7:52 left in the game, Marshall made a late run. The Herd ended a 10-0 run with 33 seconds left in the game after freshman point guard Kareem Canty made one of two free throws to cut the Owls' lead to 60-57. Yet that was as close as the Herd would come.
Jackson Trapp missed a free throw, but Shawn Smith was called for a lane violation on the shot. Trapp hit his next two to put FAU (8-14, 2-5 C-USA) up five, then Canty missed an off-balance layup on the other side, and TyQuane Goard fouled Justin Raffington on the rebound. Raffington hit both free throws to put the game away.
Chris Thomas led Marshall with 16 points, though it looked like he'd score many more after his hot start. The sophomore made his first five shots, slashing toward the basket at will. The Herd opened with a 7-1 lead and didn't trail for the game's first 12 minutes.
FAU coach Mike Jarvis then decided to move to a 2-3 zone defense, clogging the lane and keeping anyone from attacking the basket.
"We really didn't make that many outside jump shots," freshman forward Ryan Taylor said. "They kind of clogged the lane and then, when we tried to penetrate, it was congested down there."
Jarvis admitted that the move to a zone came out of desperation.