Marshall basketball: Herrion wants Herd to put up more of fight
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall was staggered on the road, suffering two losses that brought its season road winless streak to nine games. And after Saturday's 75-61 loss at UAB, Coach Tom Herrion said it was time for the team to start fighting back.
"I think we've become a prizefighter that can't take a punch," Herrion said Sunday. "We buckle when we take that punch in a game, at whatever point that may be."
Against UAB, that came with about 8 minutes and 13 seconds left in the first half. Marshall (10-14, 3-6 Conference USA) had rallied from an early 19-10 deficit to cut the Blazers' lead to 21-18 on a Tamron Manning free throw.
But the Herd went stone cold from the floor after that.
Marshall scored just two points over the next 7:23 of the first half. Those came on a free throw each from D.D. Scarver and DeAndre Kane. Otherwise, the Herd missed five shots from the floor, missed five of seven free throws and committed five turnovers in that span.
Marshall scored five points in the last 50 seconds of the half on a Dennis Tinnon layup and an Elijah Pittman 3-pointer, but still trailed the Blazers 38-25 at halftime. It didn't get any better for the Herd in the second half. UAB pulled away again and led by as many as 22 after a pair of Terence Jones free throws with 5:33 left in the game.
Herrion said the Herd needed to regain the toughness that goes missing on the road.
"That's my fault for letting it rear its head that much," he said. "We're just not mentally strong and tough enough, in my opinion."
Three-point shooting defense and rebounding were problems in both of the Herd's road losses last week. Both Tulane and UAB outrebounded Marshall, and combined to make 20 of 41 3-pointers (48.8 percent) against the Herd. The Green Wave made 11 of 25 from beyond the arc, while the Blazers made nine of 16.
Meanwhile, the Herd couldn't take advantage of one of the conference's worst statistical defenses.
UAB entered Saturday's game ranked last in the conference in points allowed and 3-point field goal percentage defense and next to last in field goal percentage defense.
Marshall shot 21.4 percent from 3-point range and 44.9 percent (22 of 49) from the floor. The Herd also made just 14 of 24 free throws. And now the Herd holds the conference's bottom spot in 3-point field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 37 percent.
All of that has contributed to a slump that stretches back to before Christmas. Marshall has lost nine of its last 12 games. The average losing margin in those nine games is 19.6 points.
Now the Herd returns home for a pair of games, starting Wednesday when it hosts last-place C-USA team Rice.
Marshall has performed relatively well in the Cam Henderson Center, dominating both Tulsa and East Carolina and upsetting the University of Central Florida.
Marshall will work until then to cure some of its problems. Herrion said the Herd did well playing zone defense in the second half against Tulane, and more of that could be a solution. No matter what, he said his team needed to rebound and track down however many wins it can.
"There's plenty of time," Herrion said. "That's part of my job. We've got to figure out a way. There's definitely the time and opportunity to remedy some of our ills."
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.