March 5, 2008
Marshall at Tulane Game Book
NEW ORLEANS - The Marshall men's basketball team trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half, but senior Mark Dorris once again provided a game-winning jumper, this time with 1.6 seconds left, to lift the Thundering Herd to a 70-68 win over Tulane on Wednesday at Fogelman Arena.
With the win, the Herd (16-12, 8-7 Conference USA) clinched its first winning season since 2000-01 and tallied its eighth C-USA victory, its most since joining the league in 2005.
Tulane (15-14, 5-10) led by 15 points, 43-28 with 17:10 remaining, after scoring the second half's first eight points. The final three points of the Wave's half-opening run were the result of a double-technical called on MU head coach Donnie Jones, which sent Kevin Sims to the free-throw line for four tosses.
A Markel Humphrey foul for a charge caused discussion between Jones and referee Rick Crawford. Crawford promptly assessed Jones with a pair of technicals, thus disqualifying Jones from the contest. Former Tulane head coach and MU assistant Shawn Finney assumed head coaching duties in his return trip to Fogelman Arena.
The Herd's comeback bid did not reach full gear until it trailed 59-46 with 10:23 left. From there MU went on an 11-0 run to pull to within two points with 7:14 on the clock. Tulane answered by scoring the next five points, including a Matt Wheaton 3-pointer to bump the Green Wave lead back up to seven, but the Herd would not go away.
A freakish athletic play by freshman Tirrell Baines sparked the Herd en route to erasing its deficit.
Baines took a Pierre-Marie Altidor Cespedes pass on the low post, reversed under the goal while spinning around the defense for a lay-in plus a foul. Baines sank his free throw which put MU down 65-61 at 4:24.
Dorris, who scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime, then scored the game's next five points. His fadeaway bank shot off the glass brought Marshall all the way back for a 66-65 lead with just under three minutes remaining. Baines then drilled an 18-foot jump shot at 1:38 for a three-point cushion.
A Donnavan Stith free throw put the Wave down two points. The Herd's next possession resulted in a missed jumper but Baines cleaned up the offensive glass to allow Marshall to milk more of the clock with under a minute remaining.
Sims came up with a steal, however, and Eric Vianney threw a pinpoint pass to Eric Gomez for a fastbreak dunk plus a foul. Gomez, who was 6-for-6 from the free throw line up to that point, missed the go-ahead free throw to leave the game knotted at 68-68 with 25 seconds left. After Finney called a timeout, Dorris dribbled the ball to the middle block, jump stopped and drained the Herd's game-winning points.
It marked Dorris' second game-winner on the road in MU's last three tilts away from the Cam Henderson Center (SMU on Feb. 13).
Humphrey and Baines scored a game-high 20 points apiece. Forward Tyler Wilkerson posted his team-high fifth double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore blocked three Wave shots and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line, hitting the front end of a one-and-one three different times in the second half.
Altidor Cespedes dished out a game- and career-high seven assists with two turnovers in 35 minutes.
Marshall shot 65 percent from the floor in the second half and 47.9 percent for the game.
Gomez netted a team-high 14 points for Tulane, followed by 13 from Sims. Stith grabbed nine rebounds for TU, which lost its eighth straight game.
For the second straight contest , Wilkerson was whistled for an early foul (18:40 of first half) and did not see the floor again until the 9:49 mark. Baines had the early hot hand in Wilkerson's absence, scoring 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game as the teams were knotted at 18-18 after Baines' layup at 10:09.
Tulane jumped by five points minutes later after a Vianney 3-pointer. Humphrey scored the next six Herd points, the last of which regained the lead for Marshall. Humphrey gave MU a 24-23 edge at 5:44 after scoring on a jumper in the lane while getting fouled.
With the game tied at 27 apiece with 3:27 left, Tulane ended the half on an 8-1 run to enter halftime up 35-28. Gomez was fouled by Baines with 10.1 seconds left, giving the Wave senior a three-point play.
Gomez, who went to the free-throw line a MU opponent-high 16 times in the season's first matchup, went 6-for-6 from the stripe in the opening 20 minutes. TU shot 54.2 percent in the first half (13-for-24) and went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. The Wave out-rebounded the Herd, 20-10, in the first half.
Baines and Humphrey netted 12 first-half points apiece. Humphrey went 4-for-4 from the floor with MU's lone 3-pointer of the half.
Herd sophomore Adam Williams hit his first career 3-pointer, just after Jones' ejection, to get the MU offense going after stalling to begin the second half. Williams' trey proved to be the lone points provided by the MU bench.
The Herd, coupled with losses by UCF and Tulsa on Wednesday, can clinch a first-round bye in the C-USA Championship with a win Saturday over Southern Miss and a UCF loss.
The Herd will close out the 2007-08 regular season on Saturday when it plays host to the Golden Eagles. Senior Night tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.