Dec. 6, 2008
Marshall at Boston U. Game Book
BOSTON - The Marshall University men's basketball team withstood 14 Boston University 3-pointers in a game that saw 12 lead changes and 10 ties to knock off the America East Conference favorite Terriers 84-80 in a thrilling contest at Agganis Arena on Saturday. The victory snapped a six-game non-conference road losing streak for the Thundering Herd, marking its first such win since Nov. 29, 2006, at Morehead State.
Marshall (3-4) had five players reach double-digits in points, paced by a team season- and career-high 20 points by freshman Damier Pitts (Charlotte, N.C.). The point guard went 9-for-11 from the free-throw line in leading the Herd to a 27-for-32 (84.4 percent) night at the charity stripe.
MU forward Tyler Wilkerson (Lexington, Ky.) and guard Shaquille Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla.) netted 15 points apiece. The game marked the return from injury of redshirt junior guard Chris Lutz (Bedford, N.H.), who scored 12 points in 20 minutes off the bench. Senior guard/forward Markel Humphrey (Atlanta, Ga.) registered 11 points in the contest, all of which came in the second half after suffering an eye injury just minutes into the contest which limited his vision.
Marshall, down four points with 3:28 left, tied the game at 72-72 thanks to two straight layups by Johnson. The freshman's first lay-in came off a nifty offensive rebound off his own miss from 15 feet and, with 2:18 remaining, Johnson fought through the defense to the hole to tie the game and send it to a wild finish.
Boston University's Corey Lowe, who scored a career-high 36 points, sank two free throws moments later to give the Terriers (4-3) their final lead of the game, 74-72. Lutz sank two free throws of his own to tie the game for the 10th time, with 1:41 left, as Marshall sank 12-for-14 free throws with under two minutes left.
Marshall's two starting freshmen, Pitts and Johnson, combined to go 13-for-15 from the free-throw line and 7-for-8 with under two minutes left in the contest. After Johnson's final two tosses staked the Herd to a 76-74 lead with 1:16 remaining, sophomore Tirrell Baines (Laurens, S.C.) blocked a Jake O'Brien 3-point attempt with 60 seconds on the clock.
Baines scored eight points with five rebounds and an assist in 35 minutes of action. Humphrey claimed team-high rebound honors with six boards, four of which were offensive.
Pitts went 1-of-2 on his next trip to the line, giving MU a three-point edge. Lowe nailed a pair of free throws to put BU down one point before the intentional fouling by the Terriers began. Pitts calmly went 4-for-4 from the line with under 24 seconds left, with each trip to the line leaving Marshall up at least three points - especially important considering BU's lethal shooting from downtown.
That was never more evident than when Lowe sank his final trey, a deep 3-pointer that ended his night 7-of-10 from distance, with nine seconds left to shave BU's deficit to one point, 81-80. Lutz then went 1-of-2 in his next trip to the line, with Baines pulling down the offensive rebound on the miss. Humphrey was then fouled and nailed both attempts to give MU the decisive 84-80 advantage.
"I just go back to practice and how I shoot (free throws) in our gym," Pitts said. "I don't feel any pressure. I just go to the line and shoot with confidence.
"We fought through all the adversity we faced at the end of the game and came together. We linked up and everybody did their part. BU hit some tough shots, but we kept our composure and stayed together to pull it out at the end."
The Herd also had a good night from distance, sinking 7-of-12 free throw attempts (58.3 percent). Pitts and Lutz both went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc as Lutz played in front of approximately 15 friends and family members from his hometown of nearby Bedford, N.H.
Marshall opened the game with consecutive 3-pointers by Johnson and Pitts off of inside-out passes to the arc by Baines and Wilkerson, respectively, for a 6-0 lead. The Terriers responded with a trio of 3-pointers to open the BU scoring column to give the home team a 9-8 lead after four minutes of action.
Lutz scored his first points since Nov. 21 versus Morgan State with a 3-pointer at 12:29 and followed it up less than a minute later with a second trey to give the Herd a 16-10 lead.
Pitts through an alley-oop pass to Wilkerson who threw down an emphatic two-handed slam with just over six minutes left in the half that gave MU a 24-21 lead. After a BU offensive foul, Pitts followed with a 3-pointer to extend the Herd's lead to six points. Marshall got another stop on BU's next possession - a five-second violation - which prompted a Dennis Wolff timeout.
Baines tallied his third field goal of the first half, and the Herd's final of the opening stanza, with a put-back slam after a Darryl Merthie (Sanford, Fla.) miss that gave MU a 31-23 lead with 3:14 remaining. The Terriers, however, ended the first half with seven unanswered points, including Lowe's third trey of the half, to enter intermission down 31-30.
Pitts led the Herd in scoring in the fist half with eight points, going 2-for-2 from 3-point range and the free-throw line. Marshall went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc in the first half, while the Terriers, which average 10.5 treys per game, went 6-for-14 from downtown in the first half.
Lowe netted 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Thirteen of BU's 30 first-half points came off of MU turnovers while seven of the Herd's 31 first-half points came off second-chance opportunities (7 offensive rebounds).
MU freshman Dago Pena (Punta Gorda, Fla.) also returned from injury after missing two games with a shoulder problem. The guard/forward netted three points, all of which came during one trip to the free-throw line after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt in the second half.
"Considering all we've been through lately, with injuries and getting a lot of new guys acclimated to playing together, it feels real good to get this win," Lutz said. "We've been trying to get things rolling and get a more positive atmosphere, so it's a great win for us against a good basketball team on the road."
The Herd will take a week-long break for final exams before its next contest, at home versus UT Arlington next Saturday at the Cam Henderson Center.