Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

EL PASO, Texas – In a night where junior guard C.J. Burks reached 1,000 career points, the Marshall men’s basketball team earned its first ever victory in El Paso, Texas when it defeated the UTEP Miners, 74-65, on Saturday evening at the Don Haskins Center.

 ”We had a lot more energy tonight,” head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We didn’t execute really well or shoot well, but we had the energy to be a winner. We lacked that the other night. The kids listened to my complaints about the last game and improved. It’s a good road win.”

With the win, the Herd moved to 15-8 (6-4 C-USA), while the Miners fell to 7-16 (2-9 C-USA). The win snapped a six-game losing streak in El Paso, Texas.


 It was all about energy,” D’Antoni said. “We didn’t have that on Thursday. We weren’t prepared and didn’t practice well. Our team has to understand the importance of the little things, like not running back, not wearing the right gear in practice, getting in a line in practice, being on time, and being there.”


On the night of his milestone, Burks scored the Herd with 16 points, while junior guard Jon Elmore led the Herd with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Junior forward Ajdin Penava scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. UTEP’s Evan Gilyard scored a team-high 20 points.


After Burks connected with a 3-pointer at the 12:06 mark, Marshall never looked back when it took a 12-10 lead. From there, the Herd’s lead grew to nine points in just three minutes to make the score 19-10, with Burks making a layup, junior forward Ajdin Penava connecting on a three-pointer and freshman guard Jarrod West making a layup. UTEP gave its best efforts to overcome the deficit, but the lowest lead Marshall had in the remainder of the half was a six-point advantage.


With 1:31 left in the half, Burks connected on a three-pointer to give the Herd a 34-24 lead at halftime. The 24 points Marshall allowed were the lowest it held an opponent all season. Elmore led the way for the Herd with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Burks had eight points. UTEP’s Trey Wade had a team-high seven points after 20 minutes.


Marshall held the Miners to 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) from FGs and just 2-of-16 (16.7 percent) from behind the arc. The Herd had advantages in points in the paint, 12-10, points off turnovers, 7-6, second chance points, 3-0, and fast break points, 4-2.




It was a tale of two halves, as UTEP opened the second half with a 13-6 run to cut Marshall’s lead to 40-37 with 15:17 left in the second half. Every time the Miners inched closer to a comeback, the Herd pulled away.


It looked like Marshall finally pulled away for good when it had a 56-48 advantage with 7:15 to go when junior guardRondale Watson made a layup, but UTEP kept fighting. Gilyard connected on a 3-pointer with 4:04 to go to cut the Herd’s lead to two. Marshall pulled away for good when a three-point play from freshman forward Darius George gave the Herd a 64-59 lead with 3:52 left in the game.


The Herd out-lasted the Miners after Elmore nailed a shot from behind the arc and Penava made a pair of free throws to give Marshall a comfortable advantage and the victory.


The Herd finished the contest shooting 25-of-59 (42.4 percent) from FGs, 10-of-35 (28.6 percent) from behind the arc and 14-of-20 (70 percent) from the charity stripe. Marshall added 37 rebounds, 12 assists and held UTEP to 28.6 percent from three-point land.​