By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
The number 100 will be prominent today as Marshall visits rival Ohio at 2 p.m. in Athens, Ohio.
In this, the 100th season of Thundering Herd basketball, the teams will be meeting for the 100th time. Ohio has the nod in the series with a record of 53-46.
Marshall (7-7) would like to end its two-game skid against the Bobcats. More importantly, though, the Herd needs a win to not only procure a little bit of momentum going into Conference USA play. A win would also go a long way toward erasing the sting of Wednesday’s 53-51 loss to Delaware State.
Yes, the Hornets play a tough schedule and were more than prepared to face the Herd on the road. But Marshall had been 21-3 at the Cam Henderson Center in coach Tom Herrion’s two-plus seasons before Wednesday’s game.
Again, it was offense — or a lack thereof — that cost the Herd against Delaware State. Marshall shot 17 of 47 (36.2 percent) from the floor, which included another abysmal showing from 3-point land (4 of 17, 23.5).
At the free-throw line, Dennis Tinnon and Elijah Pittman were a combined 11 of 12. The rest of the team was 2 of 13, dragging the percentage down to 56.5.
Marshall is last in C-USA in free-throw percentage at 58.7 percent (216 of 368).
“We have to come to grips with what we are,” Herrion said. “We are so inefficient on offense that it is damaging to us night-in and night-out.”
The defense, meanwhile, kept Marshall in the game, holding the Hornets to 19 of 49 (38.8 percent) shooting. But the offense turned the ball over 15 times.
“Our defense was good enough to win tonight,” Herrion said.
Pittman, a junior forward, leads the Herd with 14.9 points per game. Fellow junior college transfer D.D. Scarver is next at 14.1 points per game.
Rebounding continues to be Marshall’s calling card. The Herd is 22nd in the NCAA in rebounding with 41.9 per game, thanks in large part to Nigel Spikes (9.1 rebounds per game) and Tinnon (9.0 rpg). The Herd also ranks eighth in the country in offensive rebounds per game with 15.5.
The Bobcats (8-5) are led by senior guard D.J. Cooper, who has 14.3 points and 7.8 assists per game, which ranks fourth in the NCAA.
Ohio averages 18.4 assists per game, sixth in the NCAA.
The Bobcats advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, losing in overtime to North Carolina.
Marshall will begin league play Wednesday at home against Tulsa. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.
— E-mail: gfauber