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Marshall Stifles East Carolina 77-56
The Thundering Herd never trailed in the contest and improved to 9-9 on the season and 2-1 in Conference USA. The Pirates fell to 11-6 overall and 2-2 in C-USA.
In front of the largest crowd of the season (6,056), Marshall extended its all-time series lead against ECU to 13-6, including 9-1 in Huntington.
“It was a terrific win against a really good club that came in here playing as well as any team in our conference,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion on the victory. “We defended. Our defense was outstanding for the majority of the game.”
Dunks by Nigel Spikes and Elijah Pittman gave Marshall its first two baskets of the game and set the pace for a victory in which the Herd would lead by as many as 25 in the first half. Marshall held ECU, which entered the game averaging a conference-best 78.8 points per game, without a basket for the first 6:49 as Marshall jetted out to a 12-0 lead. The Pirates made just two of its first 21 field goal attempts as the Herd’s lead swelled to 27-4 with 7:57 to play in the half.
DeVince Boykins’ three-pointer with 4:08 remaining extended the lead for Marshall to 38-13.
Through the first 20 minutes, Marshall turned the ball over only three times, shot 50 percent from the field, and led 43-23. The Herd dominated inside, outscoring the Pirates 33-12 in the paint and 17-4 off turnovers in the first half.
“We wanted to attack inside,” said Herrion. “Just because it says points in the paint doesn’t mean you have to jam it in, jam it in. We played on the bounce in the paint. We posted up some different guys in the paint. We executed really well in our sets.”
The Pirates scored the first six points of the second half to cut their deficit to 43-29, but the 14-point margin was as close as they would get. Marshall responded with the next 11 points of the game to take a 54-29 lead with 15:14 remaining.
Marshall assisted 19 of 30 made baskets in the victory while forcing East Carolina to turn the ball over 18 times. The Herd scored 24 points off ECU turnovers.
Kane added eight assists and three steals to his game high 22 points. Pittman’s four steals and Spikes’ four blocks were both team highs.
Marshall scored 52 points in the paint – including five dunks – and saw its largest lead come via a pair of free throws by Kane with 8:18 left in the game.
ECU was led by Robert Sampson who finished with 10 points and 17 rebounds. Senior point guard Miguel Paul was held to 4-of-14 shooting, but was 8-of-9 from the free throw line for a team-high 17 points.
“We played a lot like we practiced all week and that’s a credit to our kids and my staff,” said Herrion. “This is something we have to build on. Now we have to bottle it up and take it on the road.”
The Herd will be on the road for its next two games, the first of which will take place Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Southern Miss. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET in Hattiesburg, Miss.//