HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – In a back-and-forth affair, the Marshall men's basketball team sank 10 of its 11 free throws down the stretch to defeat Rice 71-70 Wednesday at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd (11-14, 4-6 Conference USA) held 67-65 lead with 1:04 to play when junior guard DeAndre Kane drove to his right for a layup, his only field goal of the night, and drew the foul. The converted free throw gave Marshall a 70-65 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
"They (Rice) went man for the first time," said head coach Tom Herrion. "We held and ran clock and went with about twelve on the shot clock. We like to run that play often versus man-to-man. Nigel (Spikes) did a great job with the screen, he is so good at that, and of course Kane finishing and making the free throw was big for us."
The Owls made two free throws and then junior forward Elijah Pittman sank 1-of-2 at the line to give Marshall a 71-67 lead with 21 seconds to play. Rice got two looks at a three-pointer, the second attempted went it, a banked shot by Julian DeBose, to cut it to one-point, 71-70, but with just one second left.
The game saw 21 lead changes and never a lead of more than five points. Marshall improved to 10-2 at the Cam Henderson Center this season and won despite trailing with five minutes to play (59-56) for just the third time this season. The Herd got a boost from a place it had struggled all season long, the free throw line.
"We did a great job in the second half shooting 73 percent, 10-of-11 down the stretch making them when they count," Herrion said.
For the game, the Herd shot 64.3 percent, but attempted 18 more (18-28) than Rice (7-9) who shot 77.8 percent.
Pittman led the team in scoring with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting
including 3-of-6 from three-point range. The Herd shot 51.1 percent from
the field, its third-highest percentage this season.
Three others joined Pittman in double figures including D.D. Scarver with 17, Dennis Tinnon with 11 and Spikes with 10.
Junior guard DeAndre Kane, who entered the game averaging 14.8 points per game was held to just five points on 1-of-3 shooting, both career lows, but helped Marshall in other ways by evidence of his 10 assists. Kane also played all 40 minutes for the fourth-straight game.
Tinnon led a balanced rebounding effort with seven boards for Marshall which outrebounded Rice 31-25.
Tamir Jackson led five Owls in double-figures with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Four different Rice players hit at least two three-pointers led by Austin Ramljak who was 3-of-7 for 15 points.
Marshall will next be in action on Saturday when it hosts No. 22 ranked Memphis (21-3, 10-0) at 8 p.m.