Marshall gets wild and wonderful victory
Next game Marshall (12-6, 5-0) at Western Kentucky (9-9, 2-3) 9 p.m. Monday E.A. Diddle Arena Bowling Green, Ky. TV: CBS Sports Network Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM By RICK McCANN The Herald-Dispatch email@example.com HUNTINGTON -- Marshall Thundering Herd head coach Dan D’Antoni predicted Saturday’s game with FIU would be just like the state, “Wild and Wonderful.” It was wild, a fast-paced contest Marshall won, 105-97. And, it was wonderful for Marshall (12-6 overall), with the Herd holding first place in the Conference USA standings at 5-0 in a contest played for a raucous Cam Henderson Center announced crowd of 7,330 spectators. FIU (12-7, 3-3) is first in the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings (kenpom.com) with 80.9 average possessions per 40 minutes. Marshall isn’t far behind, 10th in the nation with 75.0. Marshall came in averaging 80.5 points and tied its season scoring high set in a 105-77 win at Eastern Kentucky to open the season. FIU, the fourth-highest scoring team in the nation with an 87.8 average, nearly surpassed 100 for the seventh time. “That pace was frenetic,” D’Antoni said. “It was hard to play the bigs (forwards). Again, Jon (Elmore) and C.J. (Burks) led us Good contributions from everybody.” The teams combined for 96 points in the first half and Marshall had a 53-43 edge at the break. That was more than C-USA teams Charlotte and Louisiana Tech scored total Saturday in a 55-40 win for the 49ers. Burks, a senior guard who hit for 30 points for the second consecutive game, nailed one of his four 3-point shots that gave Marshall its biggest lead, 58-43, in the opening minute of the second period. “I just take everything that’s given to me,” Burks said after making 11 of 15 field goal attempts, going 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and hitting all four of his foul shots. Elmore scored 29 for the second game in a row and the senior point guard’s layup kept the lead at 15 just 30 seconds later. Elmore missed a 3-point attempt, but 6-foot-5 freshman Taevion Kinsey leaped high to tip it in for two of his 20 points and the Herd was ahead, 70-57, with 14:49 remaining. Marshall continued scoring and so did FIU. With about three minutes left to play a check of the arena east end scoreboard showed every player on the court with double-figure points. Devon Andrews, a 6-6 junior forward who led FIU with 23 points, sank a 3-point shot that pulled the Panthers within 97-93 with 1:50 to go. After Antonio Daye Jr. drove for a reverse layup the Panthers were still within four at 101-97 with 28 seconds remaining. Elmore connected on four free throws in the final 24 seconds. “It was fun,” Elmore said. “The pace was crazy. They’re a tough team and we didn’t put them away because they battled.” Marshall senior guard Rondale Watson provided bench support with 13 points and sophomore guard scored 12 points, Kinsey had 10 field goals that included seven dunks and also led the team with nine rebounds. Marshall had its best shooting night this season at 57.8 percent (8 of 18 3-pointers) and made 23 of 30 free throws. Several of Kinsey’s dunks were on lob passes. “I tell them you can throw it up anywhere and I’ll go get it,” Kinsey said. Beard and 6-6 junior Willy Nunez Jr. both added 16 points to FIU’s total while Daye, a 6-1 junior guard, tossed in 15 and 6-7 junior Osasumwen Osaghae pitched in 10 points along with collecting 15 rebounds. The Panthers shot 53.8 percent from the field (7-for-21 3-pointers) and were 6 of 11 from the foul line. The Panthers were leading the country in turnovers forced with 21.9 a game and the Herd coughed it up 17 times. But, the Panthers committed 20 miscues that was about six more than they were averaging. Marshall goes away from home to play a 9 p.m. Monday game at Western Kentucky (9-9, 1-3) that notched its first C-USA victory Saturday against Florida Atlantic, 72-66. Marshall won a home game with the Hilltoppers, 70-69, on Jan. 12. Herd football head coach Doc Holliday and 10 players went on the court carrying the Gasparilla Bowl trophy during a break in the first half and received a loud ovation.