Herd Excels Late, Beats Owls 71-70

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - In a back-and-forth affair, the Marshall men's basketball team sank 10 of its 11 free throws down the stretch to defeat Rice 71-70 Wednesday at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd (11-14, 4-6 Conference USA) held 67-65 lead with 1:04 to play when junior guard DeAndre Kane drove to his right for a layup, his only field goal of the night, and drew the foul. The converted free throw gave Marshall a 70-65 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
"They (Rice) went man for the first time," said head coach Tom Herrion. "We held and ran clock and went with about twelve on the shot clock. We like to run that play often versus man-to-man. Nigel (Spikes) did a great job with the screen, he is so good at that, and of course Kane finishing and making the free throw was big for us."
The Owls made two free throws and then junior forward Elijah Pittman sank 1-of-2 at the line to give Marshall a 71-67 lead with 21 seconds to play. Rice got two looks at a three-pointer, the second attempted went it, a banked shot by Julian DeBose, to cut it to one-point, 71-70, but with just one second left.
The game saw 21 lead changes and never a lead of more than five points. Marshall improved to 10-2 at the Cam Henderson Center this season and won despite trailing with five minutes to play (59-56) for just the third time this season. The Herd got a boost from a place it had struggled all season long, the free throw line.
"We did a great job in the second half shooting 73 percent, 10-of-11 down the stretch making them when they count," Herrion said.
For the game, the Herd shot 64.3 percent, but attempted 18 more (18-28) than Rice (7-9) who shot 77.8 percent.
Pittman led the team in scoring with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting including 3-of-6 from three-point range. The Herd shot 51.1 percent from the field, its third-highest percentage this season.
Three others joined Pittman in double figures including D.D. Scarver with 17, Dennis Tinnon with 11 and Spikes with 10.
Junior guard DeAndre Kane, who entered the game averaging 14.8 points per game was held to just five points on 1-of-3 shooting, both career lows, but helped Marshall in other ways by evidence of his 10 assists. Kane also played all 40 minutes for the fourth-straight game.
Tinnon led a balanced rebounding effort with seven boards for Marshall which outrebounded Rice 31-25.
Tamir Jackson led five Owls in double-figures with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Four different Rice players hit at least two three-pointers led by Austin Ramljak who was 3-of-7 for 15 points.
Marshall will next be in action on Saturday when it hosts No. 22 ranked Memphis (21-3, 10-0) at 8 p.m.
Marshall (11-14, 4-6 C-USA) 71 - Rice (5-19, 1-9 C-USA) 70
Cam Henderson Center - 5,856
Marshall Starters (Career/Season): Dennis Tinnon (58/23), Nigel Spikes (57/24), D.D. Scarver (25/25), Elijah Pittman (22/22), DeAndre Kane (86/19)
Series History: Marshall leads 7-2 and 4-1 in Huntington… Marshall has won the last four meetings
Marshall's Victory…
Moves the Thundering Herd to 10-2 inside the Cam Henderson Center this season.
Makes head coach Tom Herrion 134-78 all-time and 54-40 during his three seasons at MU.
Takes Marshall's all-time record to 1,394-1,020-2.
Moves Marshall's all-time Cam Henderson Center record to 348-108 and 40-20 in C-USA games.
Improves the Herd to 16-5 in conference home games under coach Herrion.
Makes Marshall 2-0 in games tied at halftime (UNCW)
Makes Marshall 4-4 in games decided by five points or less, 1-2 in games decided by one point.
Team Notes
There were 21 lead changes, 14 in the second half.
Marshall won despite trailing with five minutes to play (59-56) for just the third time this season. The Herd is now 3-13 this season, 6-34 under Herrion, when trailing with five minutes remaining.
Eight of the first 11 field goals of the game were from three-point range. Three of Marshall's first five makes were from three and five of first Rice's six makes were from three.
Marshall outrebounded Rice 31-25 and is 9-4 this season, 45-15 under Herrion when outrebounding its opponent.
Marshall was 23-of-45 from the field, the third fewest attempts of the season and the fewest in a win.
Marshall shot 51.1 percent from the field, its third highest percentage this season. The herd is now 4-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field.
Individual Notes
Elijah Pittman scored 22 points, the seventh time this season he has scored at least 20 and the third time in the last four games.
Nigel Spikes had two blocked shots, his 10th consecutive game with at least one block.
D.D. Scarver made four three-pointers. His season total of 57 currently ranks 14th all-time at Marshall.
DeAndre Kane dished out 10 assists. It was his sixth game this season and seventh of his career with at least 10 assists.
Kane's 154 assists on the season is good for 19th in a single-season at Marshall.
Kane was 1-for-3 from the field, both a career low for makes and attempts.
Kane has played 180 consecutive minutes of basketball after another 40 minute outing. He's played all 40 minutes in the last four games. He has six "complete games" on the season.
Marshall Head Coach Tom Herrion
On last minute drive by Kane to the basket:
"They went man for the first time. We held and ran clock and went with about twelve on the shot clock. We like to run that play often vs. man to man, but we would not against run if they were to stay in the zone. Nigel (Spikes) did a great job with the screen, he is so good at that, and of course (DeAndre) Kane finishing and making the free throw was big for us."
On calling timeout on last-second inbound:
"After Rice called timeout we had our press breaker offensive set. However, they came out and did something that surprised me, so I called timeout and we ran our play against that coverage and executed it perfectly, especially with such a short clock."
On Free Throws:
"We did a great job in the second half shooting 73 percent, 10-of-11 down the stretch making them when they count; we realize we leave way to many points on the board. We're proud of our kids Nigel stepping up and Tamron (Manning) as a freshman knocking them down were huge. "
On adjustments in the second half:
"We were trying to do a lot of different things and that always doesn't work into better percentages, need to work on it as a staff and players learning and spending extra time. Have to keep getting better."
On going inside against the zone:
"We did a good job earlier; however we just didn't convert dropped some passes. We get skittish at times however tonight we did a great job showing patience 45 shots in a game in not a lot. Kane did a great job impacting the game with only taking three shots, finished with ten assists however we could have easily had 15 or 16. We were really good offensively I thought tonight. Big win for our club we need that and to have a taste of victory."
Rice Head Coach Ben Braun
Opening Statements:
"I thought our team really battled tonight, obviously playing against a really tough interior team. They have a size advantage in every position and I thought our guys battled pretty hard. [Marshall] has some talented players and hit some big shots against us. I wish we had a few more seconds on the clock and had a chance at the end of the game with a possession to go to knock down a shot. But our guys did battle. For us to put five guys in double figures with 16 assists and eight turnovers against a team that pressed us the entire game, our team fought pretty well."
On the defensive switch from zone to man:
"We were thinking about a foul at that point. We thought that maybe you give up one for two and then we had a couple come down, but we didn't want so much time to come off of the clock. DeAndre (Kane) was already at the rim and it was too late so we had to make a decision. He makes such big plays, and that was a huge play for them. When a player gets 10 assists for the night, that's pretty good basketball, and I admire that. DeAndre had gotten five points, but he had 10 assists. He made some things happen for his team."
On their zone keeping Marshall out of the inside for a while:
"We tried. We didn't always get there. I thought we switched up a little bit. We had a few different coverages in our zone. For the most part, we were willing to give up some contested threes, although they were knocking some down. We did some things that I think kept Marshall at bay, but in the end, their size advantage was a factor. They got to the foul line. Their shooting percentage hasn't been great, but I always tell our team, I'd rather get to the foul line and miss a few, than to make all of your shots, and get to the foul line only a couple times. I think DeAndre had a lot to do with that."