Feb. 7, 2007
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TULSA, Okla. - Tulsa guard Rod Earls scored 18 points to lead the Golden Hurricane past the visiting Thundering Herd, 63-60, Wednesday night at Reynolds Center.
Marshall falls to 9-14 overall, 4-5 in Conference USA, while Tulsa improves to 15-7, 5-4 in league play.
The Golden Hurricane evened the season series between the two teams at one game apiece in a contest that featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes, with neither team building a lead larger than six points. Marshall, who won an earlier game this season at Henderson Center, 65-53, had chances at the end of the game to come away with the victory but could not convert.
Tulsa, who entered the game as C-USA's top free-throw shooting team, displayed its prowess at the charity stripe in the deciding statistic of the game. The Herd made four more shots from the field, 23-19, and the same number of threes, 5, but the Golden Hurricane made 20-of-26 of its shots from the free throw line, compared to only nine-of-14 for the Thundering Herd.
Both teams were tied at the half at 30, and after battling back after an early Golden Hurricane run in the second half, senior point guard Chris Ross (San Antonio, Texas) knocked in a straightaway three pointer with 1:48 to go to tie the score at 58. On Tulsa's next possession, Marshall guard Mark Dorris (Cincinnati, Ohio) fouled TU guard Ben Uzoh, who knocked down one of two free throws.
The Herd, down one with 1:40 to play, then struggled for a good shot in its next three possessions down the floor. Travis Aikens (Orlando, Fla.), who led the Herd with 18 points, heaved up a three, and Tulsa gobbled up the defensive rebound. TU's Calvin Walls missed a lay-up on Tulsa's next possession, and after a Markel Humphrey (Ellenwood, Ga.) rebound, Marshall once again had a chance for the lead with 42 seconds to play. Dorris then forced a baseline jumper that barely scraped the rim, and Tulsa came up with the defensive board. Rod Earls knocked in both free throws to push the Golden Hurricane lead to three, 61-58.
Marshall then had two three point attempts go awry, one by Tre Whitted
(Wilmington, N.C.) and one by Ross. Tulsa came down with the Ross miss, and TU's Ray Reese made two free throws with five seconds remaining to ice the game for the Golden Hurricane, 63-58. Ross added a lay-up at the buzzer to make the final score, 63-60.
"It was one of those games where we just couldn't grab control," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa. "I felt our defense was good enough to get us some breakaways, but just couldn't get some lay-ups to go for us. I think that was a big part of the game.
"They got to the line against us. You have to better on the road, and you have to be a little more physical."
Aikens led the Herd effort in both scoring and rebounding with 18 points and nine rebounds. He was Marshall's only double-digit scorer. Jean Francois Bro Grebe also had four blocks on the night.
Earls led Tulsa with 18 points. Ben Uzoh added 12 points, and Brett McDade chipped in ten.
The Herd remains on the road with a game at UCF. Tip-off is at noon EST, and the game can be seen live on Comcast Sports Southeast, channel 68 on Comcast Cable in Huntington.