Coming off back-to-back road losses, the Herd returned home where it was undefeated in Conference USA play, but Southern Methodist snapped that streak knocking off the Herd 68-57.
Marshall has now lost three consecutive games for the first time this season, and the loss drops the Herd to 9-12 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
“This is a terribly disappointing loss to say the least,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. “What frustrates and disappoints me the most is our inability to gain an understanding of who we are. We just will not defend and rebound every night.”
From the opening tip, it looked as if the Herd was going to pull away from the Mustangs as Marshall started the game on a 5-0 run, not allowing SMU to score in the first two minutes. The Mustangs would then make a 6-0 run of their own.
Both teams traded baskets until the 10-minute mark of the first half when SMU began to pull away from the Herd. The Mustangs held Marshall to just four points in the final five minutes of the first half and took a 35-23 lead into the locker room.
“We did not defend and we did not rebound, and we’ve lost our identity in my opinion,” Herrion said. “We consistently do that at home and away and that discourages me greatly.”
The Herd once again struggled on the offensive end, shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first half, and the defense did not fare much better. The Mustang offense continuously worked the ball inside and shot 56 percent from the field.
SMU’s hot offense continued through the second half as the Mustangs shot 48 percent for the game, and never let the Herd get closer than four points in the second half.
“This was probably the best we’ve played offensively all year,” said SMU head coach Larry Brown.
While SMU had one of its best offensive performances of the season, the Herd continued to struggle to score. Marshall managed to shoot just 34 percent from the field, including just 25 percent from being the three point line.
Defensively, SMU dominated the tempo by way of its 2-3 zone that stifled the Herd for much of the game. Marshall, which averaged over 16 turnovers a game handled the ball well committing just 11 Wednesday. However, the Herd allowed SMU to convert those turnovers into 21 points.
“We let the tempo go their way. We knew we were going to see their zone. We missed a lot of wide open shots early in the game and our transition defense was deplorable,” Herrion said.
The Herd returns to action Saturday at 2 p.m. when Central Florida comes to Huntington for Donnie Jones’ final visit to his old stomping grounds. The Herd and the Knights split the last season’s series with the home team winning each matchup.
– Jarrod Clay