By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
If Marshall can give 15 more performances like the one it gave Wednesday night, a disappointing season can be saved, after all.
Coming off a 79-61 win over Tulsa in its Conference USA opener, Marshall moves on to the challenge of a long — make that loooong — road trip. The Thundering Herd (8-8, 1-0) will play at UTEP at 9 p.m. Eastern time tonight.
The Herd flew out of Huntington for El Paso, Texas, on Thursday, so any kind of jetlag shouldn’t be a problem.
Besides, the players might still be on Cloud Nine after the win over the Golden Hurricane.
Marshall did almost everything right — or at least better — against Tulsa, including shooting 12-of-32 from 3-point range and 27-of-60 (45 percent) overall.
“I’m awfully proud of my kids,” Marshall coach Tom Herrion said. “I’m awfully proud to be the coach at Marshall. With our great fan base — what a great turnout tonight from our loyal fan base — I’m proud to be our coach. We’re excited about the fact that we started conference play 1-0, and I thought we played really well for the majority of the game. It’s a testament to our kids’ character and my staff. They have all done a great job turning the page quickly.”
The win halted what had been an embarrassing three-game losing streak that included a 53-51 loss at home to Delaware State and a 37-point road beatdown at the hands of Ohio.
Now, at least Marshall has some positive momentum.
Junior guard DeAndre Kane ranks first in the conference and fourth in the NCAA with 7.8 assists per game. He scored 16 points and was 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
It was his first start since Dec. 8 against Coppin State because of a right hand injury.
“With DeAndre getting his legs back again, he’s got the ability to get guys the ball in the right spot at the right time,” Herrion said. “When you’re a shooter or a scorer, you’ve got to get the ball in rhythm, and we want our shooters to shoot open shots.”
Junior forward Elijah Pittman, who scored 19 against Tulsa, leads the team in scoring at 14.8 per game. Kane is second at 14.3 and junior guard D.D. Scarver is third at 14.2. Either Pittman or Scarver have led the team in scoring in the last nine games and both have made at least one 3-pointer in every game this season.
The Miners (7-6, 1-0) are led by sophomore forward Julian Washburn’s 13.5 points per game. Senior guard Konner Tucker averages 12.8 points and scored a team-high 14 in its win on Wednesday.
Marshall is 2-7 all-time against the Miners and 0-3 in El Paso. The Herd won the last meeting 76-60, last season in Huntington.
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