The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 22, 2014

Herd will try again vs. Middle Tennessee

Conference USA-leading Blue Raiders visit Huntington today

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

— The effort was there. Everything else, not so much.

It almost seems there is a different reason for every loss Marshall suffers. One night it’s bad shooting at the free-throw line. The next, it’s turnovers. Another, it’s abysmal 3-point shooting.

In Thursday’s loss to UAB, the culprit was clear — as in, the Herd didn’t clear out nearly enough rebounds.

Marshall (9-18, 3-9 Conference USA) outshot the Blazers, both from the floor and at the line. The Herd scored more second-chance points and had more points in the paint. But UAB outrebounded Marshall 51-41 and subsequently won 68-62.

It was even worse at halftime, when UAB led the battle on the boards 33-17. Those totals included 20 defensive rebounds for the Blazers to Marshall’s mere two on offense.

“It’s pretty simple. We were pummeled on the glass,” Marshall coach Tom Herrion. “We don’t finish around the basket and we leave too many points on the foul line. We played really, really hard and we’re supposed to. You have to finish around the basket and we don’t finish. Our execution was very good, but I felt we settled for too many jump shots. We did a nice job at adjusting in the second half.

“Our defense was more than good enough to win the game. Absolutely more than good enough to win the game, but blocking out and limiting second- and third-chance points is part of defense. Obviously, it is discouraging.”

As the Herd gets ready to host conference-leading Middle Tennessee at 2 p.m. today, chances to build momentum going into the C-USA Tournament are running short. The UAB game was the first of four in Marshall’s last five that are at home, so opportunity — albeit slight — exists.

Middle Tennessee (20-7, 10-2), a league newcomer, has posted its third straight 20-win season. Leading the way is senior forward Shawn Jones, who averages 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

Also scoring in double figures are forward Neiko Hunter (13.5 ppg) and guard/forward Kerry Hammonds (12.8). Point guard Tweety Knight averages 7.3 ppg and 4.6 assists.

Point guard Kareem Canty continues to lead the Herd at 16.3 points and 5.6 assists. Forward Ryan Taylor is next at 13.4 ppg and 7.2 rebounds.

Today’s game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Southeast.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.