Herd crashed the glass to defeat Zips
HUNTINGTON - Akron Zips head coach John Groce pointed to the difference in rebounds as the reason the Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball team won Saturday in James A. Rhodes Arena.
Marshall, a team that was minus-7 in rebounds for the season, hit the backboards for a 38-29 advantage and defeated Akron, 75-74. Marshall (7-4) had 14 offensive rebounds and a 15-5 advantage in second-chance points.
“The game came down to rebounding,” Groce said. “Point blank, we lost because of Marshall’s outstanding offensive rebounding and our poor block-outs.”
Marshall was up six with 2:37 left to play, 75-69, after senior point guard Jon Elmore canned a 3-point shot. Akron (6-4) quickly closed the gap to one point on Daniel Utomi’s layup and a 3-point basket by the junior forward with 1:25 to go.
C.J. Burks misfired on a 3-point shot for Marshall, followed by Utomi and Elmore both missing threes. Akron sophomore guard Loren Cristian Jackson missed with four seconds remaining and Jimond Ivey of the Zips grabbed the rebound and missed. The ball went out of bounds with one second on the game clock.
Officials signaled it was Marshall’s possession, but a monitor review reversed the call and awarded the ball to Akron.
“Rondale (Watson) came over to me and said, ‘Coach, I touched it.’” said Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni, who had a flashback to losing to Toledo on a late 3-pointer. “I thought I was looking at Toledo again.”
Akron went to Jackson, who scored a game-high 26 points, and he threw up an off-balance 3-point attempt that bounced off the rim and missed as the final buzzer sounded.
Marshall had lost to Akron in its last six visits to the JAR. This time Marshall held on for a victory to begin a rugged stretch of five consecutive road games that continues Saturday at Southeastern Conference foe Texas A&M (4-4).
“This is a tough place to play,” D’Antoni said. “I was proud of our kids. I thought we gutted it out.”
The Herd shook off its history of sluggish starts with sophomore guard Jarrod West’s 3-point field goal for a 36-28 edge at 6:13 of the opening half. Burks made it a nine-point lead, 47-38, with another 3-point basket less than two minutes into the second period.
Three-point shooting fueled the Herd early when it connected on 9-for-18 to start and went 12-for-26 in the game.
Marshall hit only 42.9 percent of its shots overall, but had one more field goal than Akron (27 to 26) that shot 46.4 percent. Marshall was a perfect 9-for-9 from the foul line while the Zips sank 11 of 12.
Top scorers for Marshall were Elmore with 19 followed by Burks with 13. Elmore added six assists and eight rebounds. Burks snagged seven rebounds and dished two assists to help offset his five turnovers.
Freshman guard Taevion Kinsey came from off the bench to net 10 points.
“He (Kinsey) played extremely well,” D’Antoni said. “Four of six (field goals), one of one from three for all you doubters, one for one from the free throw line, three rebounds and a big put-back on one rebound. Ten total points, 17 minutes and he guards.”
Jannson Williams, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, and sophomore guard Jarrod West both added nine points. Williams nailed three 3-point shots, collected six rebounds and made two steals while West did his scoring on three 3-pointers.
Marshall bench players outscored Akron 23-7 with a boost from 6-9 sophomore Mikel Beyers with seven points, four rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal in eight minutes on the court.
Texas A&M played Saturday night for the first time in nearly two weeks because of a canceled game and defeated Oregon State, 67-64, at the Dam City Classic in Portland, Oregon. The cancellation was a game scheduled Dec. 8 against Boston College when the Eagles said they could not get to College Station, Texas, because of travel delays caused by poor weather, a release on the Texas A&M website said.
T.J. Starks, a 6-2 sophomore guard, led Texas A&M past the Beavers with 18 points and eight assists. Brandon Mahan (6-5 sophomore), Wendell Mitchell (6-3 junior) and 6-9 freshman John Walker III each scored 10.
The Aggies have a Wednesday home game with Valparaiso before hosting the Herd.