Cincinnati came into Charleston undefeated and left the same way as the Bearcats pulled away from the Herd in the second half to secure a 72-56 victory.
The Herd won last season in Cincinnati, but in this matchup, the No. 11 Bearcats (10-0) avenged the loss in convincing fashion, beating the Herd on both ends of the floor.
“We played hard, but we didn’t play very smart,” said Marshall coach Tom Herrion. “We didn’t play well enough to beat a really good team, in a lot of areas.”
The story for the Herd for most of the season has been its play without a true point guard. The problem worsened earlier in the week when DeAndre Kane was ruled out indefinitely with a hand injury, and without Kane the Herd struggled to get anything on offense.
“Cincinnati didn’t care who we dress, Savannah State isn’t going to care who we dress,” Herrion said. “The guys that are dressed have to go do a better job. I’ve got do a better job clearly in a lot of areas.”
The Herd (6-5) did have some success shooting the ball, especially from behind the arc. After starting the game 5-of-5 from deep, the Herd finished 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from 3-point range, but the hot shooting would not be enough.
A common theme in Marshall’s five losses has been a weakness on the glass, and this contest was no different as the Bearcats outrebounded the Herd 40-31. The Herd shot just 9-of-31 from inside the arc, while also shooting just 14-27 from the free-throw stripe.
Bringing the ball up the floor even proved to be a challenge for Marshall, which turned the ball over 20 times, resulting in 20 points for the Bearcats.
“We knew they were going to come after us,” Herrion said. “You can dissect 20 (turnovers), but it’s just a bad, bad number that usually leads to failure and negative play.”
The Herd held the Bearcats to just 34 percent shooting in the first half, but the defense could not hold up in the second period, when Cincinnati shot 62 percent from the field, including 5-6 from 3-point range.
“It was just a poor effort on defense,” said Marshall junior swingman Elijah Pittman. “We didn’t get back some of the time, we got screened and didn’t fight through them. We just let them get open shots and they knocked them down.”
Pittman finished with 20 points, same as teammate D.D. Scarver, but the rest of the team managed just 16 points.
The Herd must rebound from the loss and turn its focus towards Savannah State, who will visit the Cam Henderson Center on Wednesday.
— Jarrod Clay