UTEP Snaps Marshall's Win Streak

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University
File Photo by Chris Spencer
File Photo by Chris Spencer

EL PASO, Texas. - UTEP senior Randy Culpepper scored a game-high 24 points as the Miners took down the Thundering Herd men's basketball team, 82-74, at the Don Haskins Center on Wednesday evening.

The Miners (22-8, 10-5 C-USA) shot 59.6% for the game, including a 16-of-21 (76.2%) performance in the second half.

Tirrell Baines went for 22 points and 11 rebound en route to his tenth career double-double to lead Marshall (20-10, 8-7 C-USA). DeAndre Kane notched 20 points and seven assists.

"This was our poorest defensive performance of the season and we picked the wrong night to do it," head coach Tom Herrion said. "They scored in every way possible, we did not guard anybody."

"The kids played hard, 24 offensive rebounds is outstanding, but obviously we did not make shots."

In a first half that featured five lead changes, the Thundering Herd jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on a DeAndre Kane three-pointer. After MU took a 5-2 lead, the Miners recorded five-straight points of their own to take a 7-5 lead, their first advantage of the contest.

With Marshall up 11-10 five minutes into the game, the Miners scored four-straight before stretching that lead to 19-13 on a layup by Gabriel McCulley. Marshall rallied to come within just two points, 24-22, with 8:34 left in the period, but a 13-6 Miner run gave them a nine-point lead in the final two minutes before a late free throw saw the Herd go into the locker room trailing by a score of 37-29.

UTEP came out quickly in the second half, hitting a pair of buckets to open up a 12-point advantage in the opening minute. Down 45-33, Marshall hucked its way back into the game. Pitts knocked down a trey, followed by a pair of threes from Kane to get back into the game, down 50-44.

Senior Tirrell Baines kept the rally going, knocking down three buckets in less than two minutes to get MU back within a possession, 55-52. The game remained within two possessions until a three by Christian Polk gave the Miners a 74-64 lead following the final media timeout of the second half. The Herd cut the gap to six with a minute left and had a chance to get it within three, but a missed trey gave the Miners possession as they would hang on for the eight-point win.

Marshall dominated the boards, 47-31, but shooting was the glaring difference. UTEP shot 59.6% for the game while Marshall hit 38.9% of their shots.

On Saturday, the Herd will wrap up the regular season, playing host to UCF at 7 p.m. at the Cam Henderson Center. Prior to the game, seniors Tirrell Baines and Orlando Allen will be honored. Tickets are still available for Saturday's game.