Basketball

76 threes part of Marshall’s win over King, 90-76

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HUNTINGTON — As the famous actor and director Mel Brooks once said in one of his movie’s, “It’s good to be the King.”

In Monday night’s game at the Cam Henderson Center, the Division II King University Tornado was nearly good enough as they made 16 threes in trying to blow away a win from the home standing Thundering Herd of Marshall University, falling late in a three-a-palooza, 90-76.

The Herd got its first win after opening 3-0, then losing the next six in a row, and improves to 4-6 on the season, while King — who, as a lower level opponent can use the game as an exhibition — remains 6-2 in Division II basketball.

Stepping behind the arc throughout the game, both teams combined for 76 attempts from beyond the 3-point line and hit a combined 28, a combined 37 percent shooting in the game. Marshall hit 12-of-37 (32.4%), while King, who lives and dies with the three, shot 16-of-39 (41%) including knocking down 7-of-8 in the final 10 minutes of the game.

The Marshall record wasn’t close to being challenged for threes, as 19-of-41 against Morehead State back in 1996 — the night Keith Veney set the NCAA record with 15-of-25 from three and scored 51 points — is still the best in the history of the program and the Henderson Center. But, 12 made threes does tie this year’s team at 16th most in Herd history (happening for the 13th time), and ties for fourth most attempted with the 37 launched against East Tennessee State in 2005 (when the Herd made 12 that night, as well).

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Coach Dan D'Antoni during game

Coach Dan D’Antoni watches as Marshall breaks six-game losing streak with 90-76 win over King. (Herd Insider photos by MU Sports Information)

However, Marshall’s head coach was much more happy to break a 6-game losing streak, as well as get a win after the West Virginia game — even if he was given some faulty information on that post-Charleston hangover that has hung over the Herd in many years, win or lose in the Capital Classic.

“You can fact check me on this, but I was told this is the first time they’ve won a game after WVU for ten years,” Marshall Head Coach Dan D’Antoni said.

Actually, it was the third year in a row the Herd has won the game following what is always a tough, physical, hard-fought and foul-plagued game with West Virginia after having a run, win or lose, where the Herd lost the next game over an eight year stretch through three coaches.  Marshall beat NAIA member Alice Lloyd last year, 121-57, and in 2012 beat Coppin State 69-63, but this game was a real test for the Herd, right down to the wire.

The biggest concern of D’Antoni’s was that once again his team came out a bit flat in the first half, and continues to struggles with the shooting percentage at home on the west end of the court in the first half versus shooting better in nearly every home contest in the second half on the east end of the floor.

“To come out and have to play a team that shoots the long ball and runs so quickly, and able to shoot it, I’ll give us a little bit, we did win the game. From that, I didn’t think we were ready. When we warmed up, I don’t think there focus was like it should have been. Coach Duhon, who warms them up, came back and said they weren’t focused. We have to do a better job as coaches and they have to do a better job as players to make sure that occurs,” D’Antoni said.

“Prior to the game, I felt like it wasn’t a winning atmosphere. We had a discussion about that. That’s an area we need to grow in, and I think we can. We made some good plays and did some good things. We got a win against a team that is 6-2, even though they are Division 2, they’re still 6-2. The only games they’ve lost were very close. I’m happy with the win. We have two weeks we can work individually with them and get some improvement.”

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Austin Loop for 17

Austin Loop led Marshall with 17 first half points, as Marshall beat King, 90-76, in a game with 76 threes combined. (Herd Insider photo courtesy of MU SID)

Marshall jumped off to a big start behind the shooting touch of redshirt sophomore guard Austin Loop, who was hot on the West end of the floor early. Loop scored eight points within the first two minutes to give the Herd a 10-3 lead. Marshall led by 10 before the Tornado came back. With 6:29 to go in the first half, King tied the score at 24-24 with 6:29 left.

From there, the Herd rallied, scoring 11 unanswered points and led by 10 with 1:07 left. The Herd let James Scales, the King senior point guard, to hit a three, then two free throws in that final minute and Marshall only led 40-35 at the half.

Loop had 17 points at halftime, but changes in the way King played him, and once again running into foul trouble — like in the WVU game — held him to no additional points in the second half.

“I was getting open looks early and they were finding me, but they started to shade me a little bit and I know they kept a guy pretty close. Then, I got in foul trouble, same as in the West Virginia game and that kind of hurt me,” Loop said. “They missed their first few shots and then they started to fall and that’s when they started to get back in it. I hit those shots early and we got up quick, but then they fired right back.”

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Brett Bowling on layup

Freshman walk-on Brett Bowling drives to the basket for one of his three layups on the way to a career best nine points in the win over King. (Herd Insider photo courtesy MU SID)

Both teams came out in a little bit of a shooting funk to start the second half and King took the lead briefly, at 45-44 with 15:38 to play. Marshall quickly regained the lead with a three from freshman Brett Bowling, who came in once again to relieve Loop, who drew his third personal just a shade over a minute into the second half.

Bowling — who entered the game having played in three contests, with an 0-for-9 from the field and a 0-of-7 on 3-pointers on the year — missed his first two threes when he entered the game with18:43 on the clock. He then hit the first three of his career at the 15:19 mark, to put Marshall back in the lead by two, 47-45, then a layup by sophomore Ryan Taylor and freshman center Milan Mijovic put the Herd up by seven.

Bowling would then push three layups in over the next three minute to move the Herd lead out to nine points, 60-51, with 11:23 to go, scoring six consecutive Herd points and nine points overall, obviously a career high for the walk-on freshman from Pineville, W.Va.

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Milan Mijovic 4 pts, 3 reb

MU freshman center Milan Mijovic scored four points with three rebounds in the Herd’s win over King, 90-76. (Herd Insider photo courtesy of MU SID)

“Bowling came in, who kills us in practice every day — he makes every shot from three — but the crowd really hasn’t seen him shoot yet. He got in there, contributed, and worked hard,” D’Antoni said. “Milan contributed. He got in there, played hard, and ran up and down the floor. They’re young freshman, but sometimes you’d rather have that guy that gives whatever’s he’s got. Those two will give it all they’ve got and I think they contributed a lot for us.”

D’Antoni noted he has a number of young players who have to play and have to contribute, like Bowling and Mijovic, and sophomores like Taylor and Loop. Another of those young Thundering Herd players is true frosh point guard Alex Nikolic, who gave the Herd eight points, five assists, two rebounds and just two turnovers in 25 minutes played.

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Alex Nikolic 8 pts on 2-of-4 from 3

Herd frosh point guard Alex Nikolic protects the ball from King point guard James Scales in the 90-76 win. Nikolic had eight points and five assists. (Herd Insider photo courtesy MU SID)

“He’s going to grow into a player,” said the former Herd point guard (1966-69) of his current point.  “I think you’re seeing glimpses of what he can be. He’s obviously got to get stronger, but if he works hard, that’s an easy fix. That group was very young. We expanded the lead with that group in there. It’s a one-game thing. I don’t know that it will be the lineup moving forward. But this game, it put a W on the board.”

Taylor led the Herd with his tenth double-double, posting 17 rebounds and 15 points in the game. He hit 6-of-8 from the field, 3-of-6 from the line, but had five assists and no turnovers after having a team-worst seven turnovers against WVU. He said the coach’s had prepared the Herd for a King team that liked to shoot the three.

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Ryan Taylor throws down

Sophomore Ryan Taylor dunks for 2 of his 15 points, and led all players with 17 rebounds for his 10th career double-double. (Herd Insider photo courtesy MU SID)

“Coach told us coming into the game that they shot the ball very well as a team, not just one player, so we knew that they were going to get shots up and that’s the only way to beat them is get them up too,” Taylor said. “I know how the hype is to come in (when lower level teams come in to) play a D-1 team. When you’ve got shooters you can really stay with anyone like that. I knew it would be a tough, grind-it-out type of game.”
Taylor also said the players were looking forward to a couple of days to get their legs back after a physical Sunday afternoon game with WVU, a hard Monday practice and then a game where the run-and-gun threes was how the King game went.

“After today’s game, we really don’t have legs left, but we’ve just got to get treatment and rehab and just get ready for the next game. The coaches didn’t want us to lose our competitive edge, since we’re a young team and they didn’t want us to get down on ourselves,” Taylor said.

“So, I think yesterday’s practice prepared us for today’s game, which was a dog fight. I think yesterday’s practice made us grow up faster than normal. We needed that yesterday.”

King’s Logan Lyle led all scorers with 20 points, hitting 5-of-12 from three, including three in a row to cut a 12-point Herd lead with seven minutes left to just six with 5:09 left. Lyle and Hunter LeVeau, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 from three, were the only Tornado scorers in double figures. Mack Ownes and C.J. Good each had nine points, while Shamarae Watts and Scales each had eight points.

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Tamron Manning 6-of-13 for 16 pts

Junior guard Tamron Manning scored 16 points off the bench for the Herd in the win over King. (Herd Insider photo courtesy of MU SID)

Junior guard Tamron Manning came off the Herd bench to score 16 points (hitting 6-of-13 from the field, including 2-of-4 from three) and added four rebounds to five assists and four steals. Redshirt junior guard Justin Edmonds scored 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, giving him back-to-back games in double digits (18 vs. WVU) and 32 points in those game, after only scoring only 30 points total in the Herd’s first eight games of the year.

Senior center Cheikh Sane had five points, two assists and a steal, but more importantly 10 rebounds, as the Herd dominated the boards (52-to-38), the paint (43-to-12) and second chance baskets (14-to-8) against the outside conscious Tornado.

The Herd will spend its next four games on the road, finishing its non-conference schedule with trips to Arkansas State and Nevada before a short Christmas break, then traveling to the MAC’s Akron (6-4 this year, after a loss tonight at North Dakota State, 55-46) on Dec. 30 before starting Conference USA play at Western Kentucky (4-4 so far, but won at the SEC’s Ole Miss over the weekend, 81-74) on Jan. 4, 2015.

D’Antoni knows this trip first leg of those games this weekend playing first the RedWolves (2-4 on the year) and then the Wolf Pack (2-7) with test his team the way the C-USA schedule will, with two games in three days.

“The first one is Arkansas State. It’s a winnable game, but with this team, every game is an adventure. It will be all the way through the year. Anytime you have a developing team, it is like that,” D’Antoni said. “I’ve tried to tell them, every game is a package. When that package is closed, the next game delivers a whole new set of problems.

“We have to come with all of our goods every game, because we haven’t gotten that swagger and fuel where you push teams away from you because of tradition or the rhythm you create. We aren’t there yet. Some of our other coaches have said we have a good chance to win this next game, but we will have no chance if we don’t prepare and get ready. Every game will be a roller coaster with us.”

MUBSKB 2014-15 Game-10 Dec. 16, 2014, 90-76 win over King, Justin Edmonds 5-for-13

Junior Justin Edmonds scored 14 points against King, and 18 points versus WVU for 32 points in his last two games – after scoring only 30 points in his first eight games. (Herd insider photo courtesy of MU SID)

Manning thinks this win tonight will help the Herd on this tough road swing through Arkansas and Nevada. “I think it’s a big thing mentally, because when you lose so many in the row, you kind of forget what winning feels like,” Manning said. “Just to get a win is an uplifting thing for us and I think it makes us feel a lot better.”

Marshall tips on Saturday in Jonesboro, Ark. at 3 p.m., and Monday night at 10 p.m. (all times Eastern) in Reno, Nev., and both games can be heard on the Thundering Herd/IMG Sports Network on Huntington flagship stations The Dawg 93.7 FM-WDGG and SuperTalk 94.1 FM and AM 930-WRVC, with airtime 90 minutes before tip-off.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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