Herd Clips Bruins in Thrilling Fashion

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

HUNTINGTON, WV A layup attempt by Belmont’s Kerron Johnson at the buzzer rimmed out as the Marshall men’s basketball team held on to beat the Bruins 87-86 Monday at the Cam Henderson Center.


“This was great experience for our team to play a close game,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. “This is the type of game that tests you and prepares you. It will help us prepare for conference play, because it was similar to a C-USA game.”


The Thundering Herd (8-2) led for nearly the entire game and had its largest lead of 13 with 10:45 remaining in the contest.  However, 86 percent (25-29) free throw shooting by the Bruins (7-5) kept them within striking distance and took helped them take their first with 1:26 to play.


Senior guard Damier Pitts recorded 19 points and a career-high 11 assists for his first double-double of the season. Two of those 19 came on a layup with 32 seconds remaining to retake the lead at 85-84.


After two rare misses at the free throw line, Belmont fouled Marshall’s Dennis Tinnon. The junior forward drained both free throws and finished 8-for-8 in the game. He finished the night with a career-best 24 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.


With Marshall leading 87-84 and seven seconds to play, the Herd chose to foul Belmont which sent Johnson to the line. He made both shots to cut the Marshall lead to 87-86.


After a foul by the Bruins, Pitts, a career 82 percent free throw shooter, missed two from the charity stripe which set up the final opportunity for Belmont. Johnson’s right-handed layup missed, much to the delight of the 5,759 in attendance.


“He is so fast,” Herrion said of Johnson. “He will be the fastest player we will see and maybe in the country and he put our defenders on their heels, but we forced him to his weak hand.”


Sophomore guard DeAndre Kane scored a career-high 29 points and recorded four rebounds and four assists.


Belmont, the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Sun Conference, was led by Johnson with 18 points. He finished perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line and was one of six Bruins to score in double figures.


Marshall shot 47.8 percent from the field including 42.9 percent (6-14) from three-point range. The Herd shot a season-best 73.9 percent (17-23) from the free throw line.


Marshall outrebounded the Bruins 39-31 including 14 offensive rebounds which turned into 23 second chance points.


After committing just six turnovers on Saturday, Marshall once again took care of the ball with only 11 turnovers against Belmont.


“This was two really good teams that played toe-to-toe,” Herrion said. “It’s an excellent win for us.”


Marshall will play its third game in five days when it hosts West Virginia Tech on Wednesday at 7 p.m.


Notes: Marshall now leads the all-time series with Belmont 1-0… It is the first time that two Marshall players recorded a double-double in the same game since March 9, 2011 against Houston in the Conference USA Tournament. In that game, Kane had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Pitts recorded 28 points and 10 assists… Tinnon missed just two shots all night as he was 8-for-10 from the field… Pitts was 3-for-4 from three-point range and has made at least one three-pointer in 19 consecutive home games… Shaquille Johnson scored five points and is 20 away from 1,000 points for his career.

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