Jan. 23, 2010
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Aaron Johnson's layup in traffic with 5.6 seconds remaining, proved to be the game-winning shot as UAB knocked off Marshall 61-59, Saturday night in front of 8,111 fans at the Cam Henderson Center. The game featured the top two teams in the Conference USA men's basketball standings, as UAB improved to 17-2 overall and remained perfect in league play at 5-0. It was the Herd's first league defeat, falling to 15-4, 4-1 C-USA.
Howard Crawford missed a jumper with 42 seconds left and the Blazers maintained possession on a ball deflected out of bounds. Following a timeout by UAB, Johnson drove to the right side of the basket and flipped up the game-winning shot. MU had a desperation attempt at the end, but was unable to get a shot off as time expired. Tyler Wilkerson set the stage for Johnson's heroics when he stole a pass and made a driving layup high off the backboard to knot the score at 59-59 with 1:40 remaining. Wilkerson led the offensive charge for the Herd, tallying 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while adding six rebounds and four block shots. Hassan Whiteside collected his 10th double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds along with five blocks. Damier Pitts scored 13 points and had five assists.
Both squads struggled from the field in the opening stanza, with the Herd only making 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) shots and the Blazers not fairing much better at 32.3 percent from the floor. Leading 12-11, the Blazers used a 6-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer by Howard Crawford, to take a 17-12 advantaged at the 5:01 mark. Crawford scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half. The Herd managed a 6-2 spurt to even the score at 21-all, with a Tyler Wilkerson baseline jumper in between layups from Damier Pitts and Darryl Merthie. With the shot clock and game clock winding down, Drake buried a 3-pointer to put the Blazers up five, 27-22, and send both teams into the locker room for intermission.
"This is a tough break down the stretch for us," said Marshall head coach Donnie Jones
. "We took the lead there; we just had to get stops. We struggled down the stretch. We went to the free throw line 27 times and missed 11 of them. We did a better job in the second half but we didn't play with that edge that we usually play with. We need to put that West Virginia game behind us emotionally. There are a lot of things we can take away from this game against UAB. They made the plays down the stretch and I give them credit."
"We had our chances," Jones continued. "In my mind, there were 10 or 12 shots where we didn't finish around the rim. It's important for us to have Shaquille Johnson
playing well, but he had a tough night. He played with heart. We didn't get much from him or Chris Lutz
tonight scoring wise and that makes it really hard. I thought Damier Pitts
played really well and took care of the basketball. He had 13 points and five assists. Tyler Wilkerson
and Hassan Whiteside
played hard. When we look at this film we are going to learn a lot from it. We were worried about the contact and hoping to get a call instead of making the shot. You can't do that. We played enough defense to win the game but offensively we didn't do what we needed to do."
The Thundering Herd will host defending C-USA champion Memphis on Wednesday Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. It will be "Whiteout 3" with the first 2000 fans in the building receiving a white t-shirt.
NOTES--Whiteside reset the Marshall school record for most blocks in a season as the 7-0 freshman swatted five shots for a season total of 102, breaking Omar Roland's previous mark of 101 which was set during the 1989-90 season...As a team, the Herd reset the school mark for most blocks in a game as Marshall recorded 10 in the game for season long total of 154...The old mark of 145 was set during the 1989-90 campaign...45 fouls were called between the two teams, resulting in 58 free throw attempts...Johnson's game winner was the only UAB field goal in the final five minutes for the Blazers.