March 1, 2006
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - Mark Patton scored 16 points, his sixth consecutive game in double figures, and Marshall used a 13-3 run to put away Central Florida 73-61 on Wednesday night.
Marshall (12-14, 5-8 Conference USA) beat UCF for the second time this season.
"I'm happy for our seniors," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa. "We wanted our seniors to go out with a win. We worked together as a group to understand that it will take hard work and effort to win. When we look at the game defensively, we know our team wanted to rally around our seniors. It was good to honor our seniors with a win."
"We came out strong, they came back before the half and then we came right back after the half," said Patton. "It may have been some of the best basketball we have played all year."
Joe Miles added 15 points for Marshall. Chris Ross tied a career-high with 13 points and Markel Humphrey had 11. Patton also added a career-high five blocks with his team-leading 16 points.
Josh Peppers led UCF (12-14, 6-7) with 18 points and Jermaine Taylor added 13.
The Thundering Herd, picked to finish last in the 12-team league in its inaugural season, could finish as high as a tie for fifth with a win at UAB on Saturday night in the regular-season finale.
Marshall's balanced attack had little trouble scoring on the conference's second-best defense. UCF had been allowing 63.5 points per game.
Marshall made 53 percent (10-of-19) of its second-half shots and outscored UCF 29-6 from the free-throw line for the game. The 29 made free throws was a season high, as was the Herd's 36 attempts.
Marshall broke a 32-32 tie with baskets from six different players over a six-minute stretch. Travis Aikens' 3-pointer gave the Thundering Herd a 50-38 with 10:22 remaining.
UCF's Marcus Johnson then picked up his fourth and fifth fouls seconds apart, and Patton converted three free throws for Marshall's biggest lead, 57-41, with 5:49 left.
UCF got no closer than 12 the rest of the game.
The Herd held UCF to only 33.8% from the floor, its second lowest of the seaosn, and it marked Marshall's second-best defensive effort of the season. MU allowed only a 28.4% clip against Charleston Southern on December 20 in an 82-53 win over the Buccaneers.
Marshall's 12-point victory over the Golden Knights was the Herd's largest margin of victory since joining Conference USA. MU's previous best was a six-point win over East Carolina on February 1st.
"We've won three of our last four," said Jirsa. "We continue to try to understand our team and how each individual fits into the structure. We have had many new people to blend in this year and we're going to work up to the last game and continue to improve."