Nov. 19, 2005
Download Free Acrobat Reader
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Marshall got a team-leading 22 points from newcomer Travis Aikens (Orlando, Fla.), but the Herd came up short in its season opener, dropping a 91-81 decision to Evansville at Roberts Stadium Friday evening.
Aikens scored 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting, with sophomore Joe Miles (Forestville, Md.) adding 19 and junior point guard Chris Ross (San Antonio, Texas) chipping in 13 points for Marshall against the Purple Aces.
The Thundering Herd led for most of the first half, despite having foul trouble with Ross and its two big men, Mark Patton (Barboursville, W.Va.) and LaVar Carter (Louisville, Ky.). Aikens filled the middle for Marshall during that time, while Ryan Lamb (Hiram, Ga.) and Miles did an admirable job at the point guard position. In fact, the only time Marshall trailed in the opening stanza was 17-16 at the 8:35 mark in the period. Aikens knocked in 12 first-half points to lead the Herd.
In the second half, Marshall quickly got into foul trouble with Patton and Carter, and the Purple Aces took advantage of the situation. Evansville took the lead on an Art Stalbergs' lay-up with 17:09 to go in the game to make the score 41-39. The Purple Aces kept the lead, although it got to no more than five points, until a Tre Whitted (Wilmington, N.C.) three-pointer put Marshall ahead 55-54 with 9:55 to go in the game. Evansville quickly responded with threes by Kyle Anslinger, Jason Holsinger, and Victor Gomez, retaking the lead.
From then on, the Purple Aces expanded its advantage with clutch foul shooting. Matt Webster led the way for Evansville during the stretch, knocking in 12-of-12 free throws in the second half. Marshall had some opportunities in the waning minutes to get the score closer, but the Herd could not take advantage of Evansville turnovers in its own backcourt.
"We did not defend for the entire 35 seconds of the shot clock," said head coach Ron Jirsa. "We took shortcuts tonight, and there are no shortcuts."
For the game, Marshall shot 39.7% from the floor, compared to 47.3% for Evansville. The Purple Aces heated up the nets in the second half, shooting at a 61.5% clip and converting on 21-of-27 (77.8%) opportunities at the charity stripe. Evansville also out-rebounded the Thundering Herd, 44-31, on the night.
"We had a number of guys playing in their first Division I game," said Jirsa. "They have got to learn to play the entire 40 minutes.
"I think as a group we need to quickly understand that the tougher team wins in athletics."
Webster led all scorers with 24 points, with Holsinger adding 19 points and Bradley Strickland scoring 13 points to lead the Purple Aces.
Marshall returns to action Monday evening at Virginia Tech. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.