CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maybe, Marshall point guard Kareem Canty surmised, the Thundering Herd men's basketball team needs to practice its foul shooting in front of an audience.
"Maybe we just have to work on our free throws when there's a lot of people in the gym going crazy," he said following his Herd's 74-64 defeat at the hands of West Virginia in Saturday's Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center. "We hit them in practice, but when the game comes the fans get rowdy."
At this point, the Herd (4-6) is looking for whatever solution it can find to improve its ghastly free-throw percentage, a major factor in allowing the Mountaineers to surge ahead after trailing most of the game. Marshall's 10-for-24 performance (41.7 percent) from the line was the second-worst free-throw shooting night of the season. Only the Herd's 8-for-24 night in a loss to Stephen F. Austin was worse.
In a game where the whistles got busier in the second half, WVU ended up taking just four more free throws than Marshall. The Mountaineers, however, made 10 more.
"We lost points at the foul line," Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said, "again."
Neither team walked into the Civic Center on Saturday night a champion at the charity stripe. WVU was 234th in Division I, shooting 67.4 percent. Marshall was 339th, shooting 59.8 percent. The difference was West Virginia got better and Marshall got worse.
WVU didn't take its first lead of the game until 3:41 remained in the game and point guard Juwan Staten hit a free throw after being fouled on a made layup to put the Mountaineers ahead, 63-62. Up to that point, Marshall had plenty of opportunities at the line to extend its lead. It made six of 16 free throws in that span, part of an 8-for-18 second half.
Meanwhile, West Virginia spent the second half making 16 of 23 free throws, finishing 20-for-28 for the game.