Marshall players coming up clutch
HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Thundering Herd is making the right plays in clutch situations.
As a result Marshall has a 10-6 season record and is 3-0 in Conference USA men’s basketball with home games coming up at 7 p.m. Thursday against Florida Atlantic University (11-6, 2-2) and 7 p.m. Saturday against FIU (11-6, 2-2).
• Jarrod West caught Jon Elmore’s pass in the corner of the court and connected for a 3-point field goal with 1.9 seconds left in the 70-67 victory at Old Dominion. • Mikel Beyers was in the right
spot to block a shot by Charlotte guard Jon Davis in the final second of the 85-84 win at Charlotte.
• Rondale Watson made the assist to Jannson Williams for the deciding 3-pointer with 21 seconds left Saturday in the 70-69 defeat of Western Kentucky.
“It just shows they’re locked in,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said Monday. “They’re not doubting what we’re doing. They’re not looking to choose and letting somebody else do it. They all feel like they’re a part of it.”
Marshall also made a clutch defensive stop after the Williams 3-pointer to end the game with Western Kentucky (8-8, 1-2).
The Hilltoppers were looking to get the final shot for Taveion Hollingsworth who already had 20 points and West deflected a pass out of bounds with 8.5 seconds to go. Marshall had a foul to give and West used it to foil another inbounds play.
Western Kentucky put the ball in play one more time with 4.9 seconds left and the Herd’s high-jumping Taevion Kinsey was leaping to obstruct the inbounds passer. The baseline inbounds pass to Western Kentucky’s 6-foot-11 Charles Bassey of the Hilltoppers was high and Watson recovered.
The Hilltoppers had one more chance after Watson lost possession, but didn’t score.
“Jarrod (West) made an outstanding play with his hands down there in the corner with eight seconds, then we fouled them which is what we wanted to do,” D’Antoni said. “Then with 4.9 (seconds) I told Rondale (Watson) ‘They’re going to throw it to the big guy.’ Taevion was doing this (jumping up and down) and they had to throw it over the top.”
Western Kentucky head coach Rick Stansbury said the game shouldn’t have come down to the final play.
The Hilltoppers had a 15-point lead at 2:46 of the first half, went into halftime ahead 42-31 and was still on top 69-67 with 1:26 remaining when Lamonte Bearden drove for two points.
Stansbury said Marshall stepped up to make plays when the Herd had to have them.
D’Antoni didn’t mind having another game go down to the closing seconds
“I’ll take them all like that if I can win them,” he said. “The closer it gets the more focused you get. You’re just focused on the play, not the score.“UTSA (10-7) leads the conference standings at 4-0 after knocking North Texas (16-2, 4-1) out of the top spot Saturday, 76-74. Marshall is second followed by North Texas.
After playing the Florida schools this week Marshall goes to Western Kentucky for a Monday, Jan. 21, rematch.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (11-6, 2-2) AT MARSHALL (10-6, 3-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM
Taylor hits the court running
Andrew Taylor, one of the top scorers in Kentucky high school history, began practice Monday with the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Taylor is a 6-foot-3 point guard from Corbin, Kentucky, who left Furman University after a few weeks of the fall 2018 semester and didn’t play in any of the Paladins’ games. He’ll pay his own way to Marshall while sitting out a transfer year, but can practice, and goes on scholarship following the fall 2019 semester.
“He’s like Jon (Elmore),” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “He’s the closest one we have to a Jon. He does the same type of things.”
Taylor had more than 3,000 career points at Corbin High School that concluded with a 2018 Kentucky Sweet 16 appearance.
He averaged 28.0 points as a Corbin senior on 53.3 percent shooting from the field, 34.1 percent on 3-point shots and 75.1 percent at the foul line.
— Rick McCann