Herd men’s basketball ready to avenge last year’s loss to Tribe
HUNTINGTON - Marshall’s basketball team is already over its loss to Maryland over the weekend.
Still, there is another loss that is on the Thundering Herd’s mind as it prepares for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. contest against William & Mary.
The loss that still lingers is a 114-104 loss to the Tribe in last year’s road contest - a game that the Herd gave up a late lead by losing shooters along the 3-point line.
Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said the Herd’s focus this week has been on the defensive end where they will have to defend William & Mary’s Princeton-style offense.
“We’ve just got to put a lot of pressure on them and play smart basketball - talk a lot - because there’s going to be exchanges between players where they cut and we’ll switch,” D’Antoni said. “There will be exchange and non-exchanges, and we have to get that right and close out on the threes. If we play a good, aggressive game, it should be a good ballgame.”
Last season’s loss stuck with the Marshall players as they spoke about preparation for the game.
Marshall led by eight points midway through the second half, but its defensive energy and communication lagged as senior Connor Burchfield hit three consecutive 3-pointers to give William & Mary the lead.
Burchfield finished with 30 points on 10-of-12 shooting from 3-point range and the Tribe finished 18-of-28 as a team from long distance in turning the game into a wild win in which both teams eclipsed 60 points in the second half.
“I know they’ve got a great tradition, great coach and they’re good year-in and year-out,” Marshall senior guard Jon Elmore said. “We owe them one from last year where they got us at their place, but we’ve got a great home environment here at the Cam. It’s a matter of staying focused and executing.”
While Burchfield is now gone, Marshall also has to account for the inside presence of junior big man Nathan Knight, who balanced out the outside attack for the Tribe last season.
In last season’s contest, Marshall had no answer as Knight got Herd big man Ajdin Penava into foul trouble early and parlayed the Herd’s lack of an answer into a 31-point, 12-rebound performance.
“They have a good big man inside that can shoot the little flip shots,” D’Antoni said of Knight. “If he steps outside, you’ve got to honor him a little bit. He’s not a great shooter, but you’ve got to come out to him. You can’t just dare him.”
Over the weekend, Marshall went through a similar scenario down low against Maryland when the Terrapins got Marshall’s post players in foul trouble, which enabled them to run out to a sizable halftime lead en route to a win.
D’Antoni said he’s looking forward to seeing how his team responds from the 37-point loss to the Terrapins because it is a bit of an unfamiliar scenario for the Herd players - both old and new.
The last time that Marshall had to regroup from a loss for a subsequent contest was in the regular-season finale when the Herd came back from a loss to UAB by topping No. 24 Middle Tennessee, 76-67, on the road.
There are also several new pieces who just experienced their first collegiate loss in the Herd’s 104-67 setback to Maryland.
“It’s been a while and that doesn’t hurt,” D’Antoni said.
William & Mary comes into the contest with a 2-4 record, but also has momentum after earning an 87-85 win over St. Joseph’s on Saturday. In the contest, the Tribe trailed by 14 at halftime, but outscored the Hawks, 52-36, in the second half to earn the win.
Knight led the Tribe with 21 points, but guard Justin Pierce added 20 points and 12 rebounds while Chase Audige came off the bench to add 20 also in the win.