Marshall leaves Akron a winner, 75-74
AKRON, Ohio - Marshall’s Thundering Herd had the basketball with a one-point lead and only one second left to play Saturday afternoon against the University of Akron Zips in James A. Rhodes Arena.
Then, the officials reviewed an out of bounds play and awarded possession to the home team.
Akron called a timeout before putting the ball in play to sophomore guard Loren Cristian Jackson who missed a 3-point field goal attempt as time ran out and Marshall left the court with a 75-74 victory.
“I thought we gutted it out,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said in a post-game radio interview. “We didn’t play as smoothly as we can, but you know what, they gutted it out and won the ball game.”
Marshall (7-4) received a pre-game pep talk from 88-year-old Herd legend Charlie Slack who resides in the Akron area. Slack holds one of the oldest records in the NCAA Division I record book for averaging 25.6 rebounds for the 1955-56 season. D’Antoni gave credit to Slack for the win.
With the all-time rebounding leader present, the Herd banged the Zips on the backboards by plus-9.
The Herd started a stretch of five consecutive road games with the win and might want to pack Slack along when the stretch away from home continues Saturday, Dec. 22, at Texas A&M followed by games at No. 6 Virginia and the beginning of Conference USA play at Old Dominion and Charlotte.
Marshall won in James A. Rhodes Arena for the first time since 2002, ending a streak of six consecutive losses to the Zips (6-4) on their home court, a 5,500-capacity facility where Saturday attendance was 2,748. Marshall was winless at Akron since March 1, 2002, when Ronald Blackshear made 11 straight 3-point shots and finished with 14 in a 104-87 triumph.
Three-pointers were big Saturday, too, when Marshall connected on nine in the first half and assumed a 42-36 edge. Akron adjusted its defense and cooled off the Herd shooters, but Marshall stayed ahead for much of the second period.
Marshall went ahead by its biggest advantage, 47-38, on a 3-point shot by senior guard C.J. Burks with 18:01 left to play. Akron fought back for a 62-61 lead on a layup by sophomore forward Jaden Sayles and there was still 8:29 remaining. Herd sophomore forward Darius George drove and dunked to regain the lead at 8:21.
Senior point guard Jon Elmore came up just short of his 21.0 season average with 19 points while also contributing eight rebounds and six assists. Burks netted 13 points, snagged seven rebounds and dished two assists. Six-foot-nine sophomore forward Jannson Williams and sophomore guard Jarrod West both scored nine.
Taevion Kinsey, a 6-5 freshman guard, provided 10 points and 6-9 sophomore forward Mikel Beyers had seven points, four rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal.
Beyers dunked on a long feed from Burks and completed a three-point play with a free throw before he made a steal and drove for another dunk that put Marshall up by six with 7:14 to go. Kinsey snagged an offensive rebound and scored with 4:20 left that protected the lead after Zips had closed to within one point.
Akron also had three double-figure scorers topped by Jackson with 26 and five 3-point baskets. Junior forward Daniel Utomi kept the Zips in it early with 13 first-half points and ended with 18. Cheese tossed in 14 points.
Marshall’s next opponent, Texas A&M, has a busy week. After a Saturday night game at Oregon State the Aggies are back home for a Wednesday meeting with Valparaiso before hosting Marshall.
The Aggies were in the NCAA Sweet 16 last season and have fallen off a bit to begin 2018-19. Their early wins were against Savannah State, South Alabama and Northwestern State and the losses were to UC Irvine, No. 4 Gonzaga, Minnesota and Washington.
Savion Flagg, a 6-7 sophomore, was leading the Southeastern Conference team entering Saturday with averages of 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Marshall (7-4) at Texas A&M (3-4)
2 p.m. Saturday
College Station, Texas
TV: SEC Network Plus
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM