MU passes, shoots past Colonels
HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s Thundering Herd got good looks at the basket because of good passing Friday night and logged a 91-71 men’s basketball victory against Eastern Kentucky University in Cam Henderson Center. Attendance was 5,218.
Marshall (9-4) whipped the basketball around for 23 assists on 34 field goals and a season-best 61.8 percent field goal percentage.
“When we have the athletic ball we get great shots,” said junior guard Rondale Watson following his first home game in a Marshall uniform.
Junior guards Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks topped the Marshall scoring with 26 and 25 respectively, but 6-foot-9 junior forward Ajdin Penava grabbed a share of the spotlight with 13 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, nine blocked shots and two steals. Watson pitched in 12 points after scoring 10 in the Wake Forest University transfer’s Herd debut Tuesday in a loss at No. 9 Xavier University.
Starting forward Milan Mijovic (6-9 senior) tossed in eight points and snagged five rebounds while 6-8 redshirt freshman forward Jannson Williams added seven points and four rebounds.
Freshman guard Jarrod West failed to score for the first time this season, but was singled out for his defense.
“I think you saw a lot of what we can be here,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Athletic wings in C.J. and Rondale. West, who is just a bulldog on the ball. Jon got his shot back. You got to see a little bit of him running the club and the energy he puts in it and Penava, just an all-around game.
“We got a lot of chip-ins from Jannson, who I was real proud of. He went extended minutes (20) and did a great job. Milan got in there and gave us great minutes.”
Elmore passed Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Hal Greer on the Marshall career scoring list and moved into 21st all-time with 1,380. The Herd point guard entered the night as the NCAA leader in free throws made and attempted (103-for-125) and sank four of five from the line.
Penava’s nine blocked shots matched his previous best. He went into the game leading the nation in blocks (55) and blocks per game (4.58).
Marshall didn’t waste time getting after the Colonels (6-7). Burks opened the scoring with a floater from in the lane, Penava swished a 3-point shot and Elmore followed with another 3-pointer in an 8-0 start that stretched to 48-32 at halftime.
“Give credit to Marshall,” Eastern Kentucky head coach Dan McHale said. “We absolutely ran into a lion’s den.”
Nick Mayo of the Colonels, a 6-9 junior who hit for 30 points last season in a win at home against the Herd, had only seven points in the first half and 19 for the game. Mayo was averaging 16.8 a game. Sophomore forward DeAndre Dishman scored 16 and 6-8 junior forward Jackson Davis, a Butler University transfer, followed with 17.
McHale said the Colonels were missing their second leading scorer, freshman guard Dedric Boyd who has a groin injury.
He averages 15.2 points.
Marshall’s four-game homestand continues at 7 p.m. Thursday against Southern Miss in the first of three consecutive Conference USA games in Cam Henderson Center. Louisiana Tech visits Saturday, Dec. 30, followed Saturday, Jan. 6, by Western Kentucky.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have a 7-5 record entering a Saturday game against Mississippi State in Jackson, Miss.
SOUTHERN MISS (7-5) AT MARSHALL (9-4)
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Cam Henderson Center
RADIO: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM