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Marshall Holds On for 75-71 Upset over West Virginia
Marshall (13-5) downed its in-state rival for the first time since topping a pair of nationally-ranked Mountaineer squads in 2005 and 2006
West Virginia (12-5) was stiffled by a stellar Marshall defensive effort that held the Mountaineers without a field goal for more than 11 minutes spanning both halves and to a season-low 21 first half points.
By then, Marshall's guard-oriented offense under first-year coach Tom Herrion had built an impressive 47-23 lead before the taller Mountaineers mounted a comeback, getting as close as 72-69 in the final minute before the Herd closed the door with clutch shooting from Pitts at the free throw line.
Redshirt freshman DeAndre Kane added 18 points for Marshall.
Casey Mitchell led West Virginia with 18 points, while John Flowers added 16 and Joe Mazzulla and Truck Bryant scored 10 apiece.
Marshall battled the heavily-favored Mountaineers early and managed to tie the contest at the 13:24 mark of the first half on a Dago Pena jumper that set off a tremendous run that gave the Herd not only a 35-21 lead at the half, but a lead it would never surrender. The Thundering Herd did so despite an early injury to starter Johnny Thomas that forced him out of the game and a rash of foul trouble that left Herrion to play a smaller lineup for most of the remainder of the game.
The Herd stormed out of the locker room with a slam dunk from Shaquille Johnson on the first play of the half that was followed by a Johnson steal that led to a DeAndre Kane trey just seconds later. Marshall would lead by as much as 24 points in the second half, before the Mountaineers mounted their comeback bid.
Both teams were called for 32 personal fouls each in the contest. Marshall was 23-of-35 at the line (65.7%), while WVU was 26-of-35 at the stripe (74.3%). Most of West Virginia's free throws came in the second half as the Mountaineers secured the bonus with 9:17 remaining in the game. West Virginia connected on 23-of-25 second half free throws (88.5%), while Marshall hit on 12-of-20 (60%) in the half.
Overall, Marshall shot 40% from the floor (22-55) and 34.8% (8-23) from three-point range. West Virginia shot 33.3% percent (19-57) and 29.2% (7-24) from three.
Marshall returns to action on Saturday when it hosts C-USA rival East Carolina. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.Tickets are available online at Herdzone.com or by calling 1-800-THE-HERD. Fans can also receive discount promo codes by following the Herd on twitter and facebook.