HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The Marshall men's basketball team is starting to figure out how to win again. It's still trying to grasp the concept of winning consistently.
This past weekend was the second straight that the Thundering Herd began its pair of games with a victory, only to stumble on the back end. The Herd beat Florida International, 80-68, this past Thursday, but couldn't match that Saturday versus Florida Atlantic, losing 65-57. Marshall found itself in the same predicament the weekend before, snapping a 10-game road losing streak in a win over Rice on Jan. 23, before watching Louisiana Tech run away with a 98-77 win on Jan. 25.
It was better than the two previous weekends -- losses at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Texas at El Paso the first weekend and home losses to North Texas and Tulsa the next. But the Herd's frustration in not being able to snag two straight wins remained.
Marshall hasn't won consecutive games since beating the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Nov. 23 and Western Kentucky on Nov. 26. Marshall coach Tom Herrion said he and his players are still on their search for consistency.
"To say the least," he said following Saturday's loss. "To say the least."
What troubled Herrion this past weekend was not just inconsistent play, but what he considered inconsistent effort. In beating FIU, Marshall shot well (50.9 percent from the floor and 84.2 percent from the free throw line) and defended well (FIU shot 45.2 percent for the game and 40.6 percent in the second half).
Neither of those skills were on display versus the Owls, which lost to FIU on Jan. 25 and were 1-10 away from home entering Saturday's game. The Herd started out hot, making seven of their first 11 shots, but made just three of their next 14 and made just 21 of 54 (38.9 percent) for the game. After getting to the hoop with ease against FAU's man-to-man coverage, Owls coach Mike Jarvis decided to switch to a 2-3 zone that forced Marshall to shoot jumpers they couldn't hit.
And the farther from the basket the Herd got, the worse it got. Marshall made just six of 21 3-pointers (28.6 percent). Yet Herrion said Marshall's defensive breakdowns - FAU shot 53.2 percent (25 of 47) for the game - and 37-29 rebounding deficit led to the loss.
"Everything that happened today was on the defensive end of the floor," Herrion said.
"You can look at numbers and our offensive numbers weren't very good, but we didn't guard, we didn't defend and we didn't rebound. Not well enough to win."