Marshall does what it does best — quickness and shooting — to beat FIU
HUNTINGTON — What the Marshall Thundering Herd does, the FIU Panthers also do.
That’s create a hectic pace, spread the court and move the basketball rapidly, run pick-and-roll patterns and take 3-point shots.
Marshall did it better than FIU for the second time this season when the teams locked up Wednesday night for a men’s game in Cam Henderson Center.
Senior guard C.J. Burks pumped in 21 points as one of Marshall’s five double-figure scorers and the Herd ran down the Panthers 94-78 in front of 5,822 spectators. Marshall also beat FIU back on Jan. 19 on 3rd Avenue, 105-97.
FIU head coach Jeremy Ballard is in his first season implementing a wide-open style of play. “We’re just used to this style of play,” Burks said about the brand of basketball that carried Marshall last season to the Conference USA championship and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. “It’s our game, We’re pretty used to getting up and down at that pace.”
Marshall, 17-13 for the season after its fourth consecutive win, improved its C-USA record to 10-7 with one regular-season game left and secured the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament that gets underway Wednesday, March 13, at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Florida Atlantic (17-13, 8-9) visits Marshall at noon Saturday when it will be Senior Day for Burks, Jon Elmore, Rondale Watson and Christian Thieneman.
Elmore, the all-time conference leader with 2,489 points, tossed in 18, the same as 6-foot-5 freshman forward Taevion Kinsey, who also grabbed eight rebounds. Forward Darius George, a 6-7 sophomore, was next with 14 points and also snared eight rebounds. Senior guard Rondale Watson had 10 points along with eight rebounds. Six-foot-nine sophomore forward Jannson Williams scored nine, and his seven rebounds helped the Herd play even with the Panthers on the backboards.
Likewise, FIU (18-12, 9-8) also had five players score in double figures, topped by Osasumwen Osaghae with 19 and the 6-10 junior completed a double-double performance with 11 rebounds.
“We do a lot to try to emulate what they do offensively,” Ballard said. “We started the game out well. We followed the game plan. We got out to a 12-point lead and took some bad shots that I didn’t think we needed and didn’t get some stops at the end the half and we allowed them to make a run that carried over out of the locker room.”
Ballard said the Panthers making only 2 for 18 on 3-point shots and Marshall gunning in 10 of 31 was a key.
Marshall went on a 10-point spree to cut into FIU’s 12-point advantage and went ahead at halftime, 47-46, with eight seconds remaining on Kinsey’s putback of an offensive rebound.
Osaghae had 11 points at halftime and took only three shots in the second half.
“I thought the second half we started snuffing off the inside a little better,” D’Antoni said. “We started getting back underneath a little better. They hurt us with penetrations when they finished on their own and the dump-off to the big kid.”
Kinsey converted a three-point play and Burks turned an Elmore steal into a layup that put the Herd on top 59-56 with 15:54 left in the game.
Elmore and Burks cashed consecutive 3-pointers that created a 67-58 margin at 13:24.
The Herd stretched it out after that, building a 92-71 edge after Watson’s dunk with 2:11 to go.
Marshall will be going for a four-game sweep of the Florida schools Saturday after beating Florida Atlantic, 96-84, on Jan. 17 in Cam Henderson Center. Louisiana Tech edged Florida Atlantic 72-69 in a Senior Night game Wednesday in FAU Arena. Daquan Bracey popped in 21 points for LA Tech. Karlis Silins scored 19 for the Owls while seniors Anthony Adger and Xavian Stapleton pitched in 17 and 16 respectively.
Next game: Florida Atlantic (17-13, 8-9) at Marshall (17-13, 10-7)
Noon Saturday, Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM