Herd wants to steal win at Southern Miss

January 26, 2019

HUNTINGTON - Jarrod West has a reputation for being a pest.

Marshall University’s sophomore guard is usually assigned to defend the opponent’s best scoring backcourt player and he hounds them relentlessly, forcing them into missed shots and turnovers.

West had only one steal Thursday night at Louisiana Tech when the Bulldogs defeated the Thundering Herd men’s basketball team, 89-80, in overtime, but in three games before that against Florida Atlantic, FIU and Western Kentucky he stole the basketball five times in each one.

“Defense is definitely something I take pride in,” said the 5-foot-11 West who contributes 2.4 steals per game along with 6.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. “My entire life I’ve always been the smallest guy on the floor. You can’t play unless you can guard your position. I do my best to create turnovers, try to affect the game anyway I can.”

Marshall is sixth in the nation in forced turnovers with 18.2 a game, partly because of West. The Clarksburg, West Virginia, native said playing tenacious defense is infectious and teammates follow his lead.

One of his steals Monday at Western Kentucky made the ESPN SportsCenter top plays of the day highlights. He took the basketball from Lamonte Bearden while losing his shoe. West dribbled up the court shoeless and sank a 3-point shot.

West said he couldn’t get his feet going, was slipping and thought he was going to fall, but he was open and took the shot.

“When you force a couple of turnovers I feel like it affects the team,” he said. “I feel like it affects the environment you’re in.”

West will likely get the defensive assignment on one of the Southern Miss guards, either Cortez Edwards or Tyree Griffin, when Marshall (12-8, 5-2 Conference USA) faces the Golden Eagles (11-9, 3-5) in a 5 p.m. Saturday contest at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Edwards, a 6-2 senior, leads his team’s scoring with 13.3 a game and Griffin, a 5-10 senior, follows with 12.5.

Marshall has lost two straight games at Western Kentucky (68-59) and LA Tech to fall from sole possession of first place in C-USA. Old Dominion leads with a 6-2 league record followed by North Texas, UAB, Marshall and UTSA all at 5-2.

After playing its third road game in six days the Herd returns home for a Thursday clash with UTEP and a Saturday meeting with UTSA in Cam Henderson Center.

“We have to figure out how to pull one out as we go to Southern Miss, get back home and win a couple then feel good about ourselves,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said.

Marshall had chances to possibly win at LA Tech (14-7, 4-4).

Sophomore forward Jannson Williams hit a 3-point shot with 12 seconds left in the second half that put Marshall ahead, 72-70, but LA Tech junior guard DaQuan Bracey drove the length of the court for a layup that tied the game with five seconds to go.

The Herd coughed up the basketball four times in the five-minute overtime period.

Bracey led the Bulldogs with 25 points while sophomores Anthony Duruji and JaColby Pemberton both added 18. Pemberton, a 6-5 guard, also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Marshall senior guard C.J. Burks produced 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his first career double-double game. Freshman guard Taevion Kinsey scored 14 and Williams had 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Rondale Watson had nine points and eight rebounds.

Jon Elmore, the third-leading scorer in school and conference history with 2,277, sank only two of 12 field goal attempts and scored eight. The senior point guard from Charleston reached two career milestones with one 3-point field goal and eight assists. Elmore is tied for the Herd assists record of 701 set by Greg White (1977-81) and the career 3-point field goal record of 293 set by Austin Loop (2013-17).

“I thought it was a tremendous defensive effort by our entire group to hold one of Marshall’s leading scorers to single digits (and) to hold them under one point per possession,” LA Tech head coach Eric Konkol said.

Elmore continues to top the Herd scoring chart with a 19.5 average after his third game in single figures this season and Burks scores 18.2 per game. Williams scores 9.3 a game and leads the team with 4.7 rebounds. Kinsey and Watson average 8.8 and 6.9 points respectively.

Southern Miss is the only C-USA team that hasn’t allowed 80 points in a game this season and yields only 64.5 on average. Marshall scores 80.7 a game and has 10 games with 80 or more.

The Golden Eagles are on a two-game skid with losses at Old Dominion (78-60) and a Thursday home game with Western Kentucky (66-63). The Hilltoppers led by 13 at halftime and the Golden Eagles whittled the deficit down to three after Griffin’s 3-pointer with only three seconds left.

Western Kentucky held the Southern Miss guards down, limiting Edwards and Griffin to combined 7-for-25 shooting and eight points each.

Leonard Harper-Baker, a 6-5 junior forward averaging 8.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, recorded career highs of 18 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore guard LaDavius Draine averages 10 points and scored 15.

“Southern Miss is a good team and we’re on the road again so we have to come out ready to play,” West said.

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