HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall shot a season-high 55.1 percent from the field and hit big free throws down the stretch to beat the second place team in Conference USA, Southern Miss, 88-84 on Tuesday in the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd (13-17, 6-9 C-USA) received a 22 point performance from junior forward Elijah Pittman who was 4-of-7 from three-point range. Junior guard D.D. Scarver scored 19 points and was deadly from three as well, going 3-of-7, part of Marshall's 10-of-20 effort from beyond-the-arc.
"We played at a really good level tonight," said head coach Tom Herrion. "We had two stretches, one in the first half, one in the second half, where we got sloppy and careless with the ball. Minus that, I thought offensively we were as good as we've been all year."
Seniors Robert Goff, Nigel Spikes and Dennis Tinnon, who were honored before the game in their final home game at Marshall, each produced in different ways.
Goff scored eight points, all in the first four minutes of the game, and brought down five rebounds. Tinnon had five points and five rebounds. Spikes scored seven points, had five rebounds and three blocks. He also hit two free throws to break a 79-79 tie to give Marshall an 81-79 lead with 30 seconds remaining, a lead that it would not relinquish.
"We made big free throws, made them when they counted, and then it was contagious," Herrion said. "We made them from the start tonight. Every guy stepped up and looked like they were confident."
Marshall jumped out to a 16-8 lead at the 12:51 mark in the first half. Southern Miss (22-8, 11-4 C-USA) then went on an 18-5 run to take a 26-21 lead with 7:19 to play. It was then Marshall's time to make a run, 14-1 over the next two minutes with 10 of those points from Tamron Manning. The Herd led 35-27 with 4:31 remaining in the first half. Marshall regained an eight-point advantage when DeAndre Kane, who finished with nine points, executed on a fastbreak layup to go up 46-38, which the Herd took into halftime.
Marshall led most of the second half until a three-pointer from Neil Watson gave Southern Miss a 73-71 lead with 4:30 to play. The game was tied 76-76, one of six ties in the half, with two minutes to play when Pittman hit a three-pointer in the corner for a 79-76 lead. Southern Miss' Dwayne Davis then drained a three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to tie the game 79-79.
After Spikes' two free throws gave Marshall the lead, Jerrold Brooks made one of two free throws for the Golden Eagles to cut the Herd lead to one point, 81-80 with 16 seconds to play. Southern Miss then played the foul game to get the ball back, but Marshall made 7-of-8 attempts from the free throw line in the final 12 seconds to secure the victory.
The Herd made 24-of-31 attempts from the free throw line for 77.4 percent, its second-best performance of the season. The Golden Eagles shot 56.7 percent from the line (17-of-30).
It was a total team effort as Marshall got contributions from a few members who don't normally put up big numbers. Freshman Tamron Manning scored a career high 12 points and had four assists to zero turnovers in 18 minutes of play. Sophomore Jamir Hanner made his only field goal attempt, a three-pointer, for four points and junior Yous Mbao scored his first points since Nov. 16 with two free throws for two points.
Every bit of scoring was needed as Davis scored 35 for Southern Miss on 13-of-20 shooting. It was the most points for a Herd opponent since Darrius Morrow scored 33 for East Carolina on Jan. 22, 2011.
"Dwayne Davis played at a phenomenal level tonight," Herrion said. "He has tremendous talent. They have a good ball club. I'm proud of our kids for bouncing back and responding."
Marshall wraps up the regular season on Saturday at 5 p.m. at East Carolina (16-11, 7-7 C-USA).