Marshall Thundering Herd

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For a team that’s trying to work its way upward in Conference USA and challenge teams like UAB, Tulsa and UTEP for second place, Marshall is still behind the curve. The hardwood heroes from Huntington, West Virginia, aren’t where they need to be, but after beating one of the darlings of last season’s NCAA Tournament, they at least have a chance to get closer to their goals.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Marshall Thundering Herd survived Ohio’s second half comeback bid to emerge with a 65-57 win over the Bobcats in a sometimes ragged affair on Saturday.  Sophomore guard DeAndre Kane led the Herd, scoring 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting from floor while sinking 7-of-12 free throws. With the win, Marshall is now 5-2 on the season. Ohio falls to 4-3.

Marshall looked like a C-USA contender at times last season, but the Herd couldn’t finish off UTEP in a key late-season home game. Coach Donnie Jones was let go as UM’s coach, a sign that the corner was most definitely not being turned at this school tucked away in Appalachia. Conference USA has so many teams that have been languishing in its middle regions for a number of years. Memphis still rules the roost (the Tigers’ run of dominance was briefly interrupted last year, but it looks like it’s ready to continue in the coming months), but the second through seventh slots are anybody’s guess, and Marshall – now under the leadership of first-year coach Tom Herrion – would like to think that it can make a run at an at-large NCAA berth in the conference.

This win over Ohio – the little No. 14 seed that took down mighty Georgetown in the first round of last season’s Big Dance and made a national splash – will certainly help Marshall’s cause. The CUSA Fans Team Fan Shop features Marshall Thundering Herd clothing & merchandise for fans of all ages!

The Herd took a 27-23 halftime lead following a first half in which both teams struggled to establish any sense of rhythm and continuity on offense, combining for 25 turnovers.  The score remained close throughout the second half, as the Bobcats clawed back each time the Herd threatened to pull away. Ohio rallied from an early 37-27 second half deficit with a 16-6 spurt to tie the game at 43.  However, the Herd pulled away again, taking a 51-45 lead before the Bobcats came back to pull even at 55 when D.J. Cooper drilled a three-pointer with 3:35 remaining in the game.

Ohio went cold from the field after Cooper’s triple allowing Marshall to win the game by sinking 10-of-12 freebies down the stretch. Cooper finished with 22 points but it took him 21 shots to get, as he struggled with his shot all game, making only 8-of-21 shots. There’s nothing like a little lock-down defense to grind out a road win in a hostile building in Athens, Ohio. Marshall’s quest for legitimacy continues with a slightly lighter step.

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