Thundering Herd Defeat East Carolina, 72-66|
Feb. 1, 2006
HUNTINGTON - Senior center Mark Patton (Barboursville, W.Va.) scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Thundering Herd to a 72-66 win over East Carolina Wednesday night at the Henderson Center.
Patton and freshman Markel Humphrey (Ellenwood, Ga.) were the Herd's double-digit scorers on the night. Humphrey scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, took down three boards, dished out three assists, and had one steal in 32 minutes of action against the Pirates.
"This is an important month for us, like it is for all teams in college basketball," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa. "We got off to a good start, but East Carolina is a determined team, and I thought the most determined team had the best chance to win. We worked hard before the game at shooting and finishing better around the basket. We hit seven of eight free throws in the last minute, and when any team does that while ahead, it is a tremendous advantage."
East Carolina took the lead early on, scoring the game's first five points, but Marshall responded, going on a 9-0 run to give them a lead they would hang on to the rest of the way. The Herd took a 33-28 lead into the half, the first time this season it has held the lead at the break in any Conference USA contest. The Herd was tied 20-20 at the half at Tulsa, but trailed at intermission in the other four games.
The Pirates tied the game in the second half at 36 with 17:21 to go, but the Herd again responded, going on a 4-0 run to stay ahead of the pesky Pirates.
Although ECU only led once and tied the game briefly in the second half, it took clutch Marshall free throw shooting down the stretch to come away with the win. Marshall's last field goal came at the 3:38 mark, but the Herd converted on 11 of its last 12 free throws, and 7-of-8 in the last minute.
"You come to expect physical play in the conference," said Patton. "Teams are battling, but we battled too and it showed at the end."
The Marshall victory is the Herd's first home win in Conference USA play.
Junior guard Tre Whitted (Wilmington, N.C.) scored seven points and tied Mark Patton for the team lead in rebounds with seven for the Herd. Whitted also dished out four assists. Sophomore guard Mark Dorris (Cincinnati, Ohio) also pitched in eight points and six rebounds.
Sophomore center Jean Francois Bro Grebe (Abidjan, Ivory Coast) hit his first career field goal at the 8:10 mark of the first half and finished with seven points in nine minutes of action in his first home game of the season. Two of those came on a Tre-Whitted-assisted dunk in the second half.
"We never give up on plays and we like to crash the boards," said Bro Grebe. "When Tre (Whitted) got the ball, I knew he would get it to me, so I just made a powerful move to the basket."
"I am happy to see him (Bro Grebe) get into the game," said Jirsa. "He has been in practice more regularly and now he can take a bump and not worry about things. We need another presence to give Mark (Patton) a break, and I hope he can come in and do that. Tonight was a good sign of what he can do for us."
For the Pirates, Corey Rouse and Jeremy Ingram each scored 15 points. Rouse had nine rebounds to lead ECU on the glass, and junior guard Japhet McNeil came off the bench to dish out 11 assists, marking the first Marshall opponent to dish out 10 assists since Eastern Michigan's Michael Ross earned 11 on March 10, 2003. O'Neil also set the ECU single-season assist record in the game and has 131 for the season, breaking the mark of 122 that he set last year as a sophomore.
"We just couldn't get over the hump tonight," said ECU coach Ricky Stokes. "I just thought Marshall was tougher than us. I have to give Marshall a lot of credit. They made the plays down the stretch to win it. It was a tough night all the way around for us.
"We have to do a better job defensively. Marshall was tougher tonight, and hopefully we will be the tougher team in a couple of weeks when we play them again."
Marshall hits the road this weekend to take on Tulane in New Orleans in more Conference USA action. Tip-off time is set for 8:30 p.m. EST.