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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Despite a valiant second half comeback, the Marshall men's basketball team fell to UAB 52-48 Saturday night in front of a season-high 6,614 at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd (12-16, 5-8 Conference USA), which trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second half, tied the game 46-46 with 2:51 remaining. However, it could not overcome a season-low 26.3 percent shooting from the field and allowed 18 offensive rebounds by the Blazers (13-14, 5-7 C-USA), many of which came down the stretch when the Herd needed to regain possession.
"We missed everything tonight, lay-ups, jumpers, threes," said head coach Tom Herrion. "Sometimes we just have to find a way. We dug ourselves a big hole and we fought back, which I was real proud of, but just didn't play smart down the stretch."
Marshall got off to a great start, leading 16-14 at the 8:40 mark of the first half. UAB then went on a 16-1 run to end the half, to take a 30-17 lead at the break. The Herd shot just 19.4 percent (6-for-31) from the field in the first half.
Marshall's field goal drought went into the second half, finally scoring with its first three-pointer of the game with 15:37 to play. The field goal drought, snapped by Elijah Pittman, lasted nearly 13 minutes (12:43). Pittman followed with two more three's which sparked a 15-0 run by the Herd to trail by just six points, 36-30 with 12:55 to play.
After tying the game at 46-46, Marshall went 0-of-4 from the field, all of which came from three-point range where it shot 11.5 percent for the game (3-of-26).
The Herd had several chances to tie the game down the stretch, none more so than when the ball found the hands of freshman guard Tamron Manning after an errant inbounds pass by UAB's Preston Purifoy with five seconds on the clock. Manning's shot, which would have tied the game at 51-51, fell short.
"Tamron did a good job on defense but knowing how much time was left on the clock and took a shot with five seconds left," Herrion said.
Pittman scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior center Nigel Spikes had 15 rebounds to go with nine points. He also had two blocked shots, his 13th consecutive game with at least one block.
Junior guard DeAndre Kane had nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
UAB did not shoot much better than Marshall, going 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from three-point range and shooting 30.2 percent from the field. All the misses led to a lot of rebounds which the Blazers held the advantage 50-45.
UAB was led by Jordan Swing's 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Rod Rucker had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Marshall will have a week between games as it is not in action again until Saturday March 2 at Houston. The game is at 2 p.m. and will be shown on CSS.
Head Coach Tom Herrion
"We were so in-efficient on offense. We missed 42 field goals and 11 free throws. Also, never had a team shoot 19 percent in the first half let alone any half. Defense was more than good enough to win tonight. Although we did miss a critical free throw block out late and that really hurt us. We missed everything tonight, lay-ups, jumpers, threes. Sometimes we just have to find a way. We dug ourselves a big hole and we fought back which I was real proud of, but just didn't play smart down the stretch."
On shot selection and pressing shots
"They played 38 minutes of zone, and we missed a lot of shots, at one point missed 19 shots in a row. Had a lot of good shots early that we missed, than we started to press a little I feel and took a few bad shots. 42 missed field goals started the second half going inside and we miss two or three lay ups. Again gave up to many points on the foul line."
On shooting threes
"It's always been a part of our game. We have two really good shooters, and they had some good looks. Throwing the ball inside is also a major part but when you throw inside and miss lay-ups and free throws those are empty possessions as well. It wasn't just three-point shooting. What if we made half of our free throws?"
On final 10 seconds (loose ball steal)
"After the steal calling a timeout in a scramble mode is kind of damn if you do damned if you don't. Tamron did a good job on defense but knowing how much time was left on the clock and took a shot with five seconds left. I'll have to go back and look at the film to see what other options were there, maybe skip pass. Did a nice job forcing the turnover and give ourselves a chance not a great one but a chance. We practice this situation a lot in practice switching screens going for and forcing steals."