HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Hard times at the Cam Henderson Center continued as Marshall fell 69-52 to Tulsa despite leading by eight points in the second half.
Chris Thomas led Marshall with 14 points, while James Woodard led Tulsa and all scorers with 17 points.
Marshall played with more energy in the opening minutes, but couldn’t keep the pace flowing in the second half. At halftime, the Herd had a 25-20 lead after shooting nearly 10 percent better than the Golden Hurricane in the opening 20 minutes, and holding a two point edge in rebounding. The Herd also played more explosive in the first half, bringing the home crowd to its feet multiple times on slam dunks by Chris Thomas and TyQuane Goard.
Following the game, Thomas said strong defense by the Herd led to momentum in the first half.
“We were getting stops,” Thomas said. “That’s what was working in the first half. We were getting out in transition and scoring. We had our home crowd in it, so we felt good in the first half.”
In the second half, the storylines switched from Marshall having momentum to Tulsa having momentum. Much of the momentum swing that occurred happened at the 9:52 mark of the second half, when Marshall forward Ryan Taylor was disqualified after picking up his fourth foul and then being whistled for a subsequent technical.
“Our momentum went down and theirs went up, and they started making shots,” Thomas said. “We couldn’t hold the win.”
Tulsa coach Danny Manning said it was a game of two halves, with Tulsa playing lackadaisical in the first half, but turning up the intensity in the second half.
“In the first half, you have to give Marshall credit with the way they guarded us and took away the different looks offensively,” Manning said. “In the second half, we had more shots fall for us, got in transition more and got on a little bit of a run.”
After Taylor fouled out for Marshall, Woodard knocked down both free throws, then hit a 3 from the left wing on the ensuing possession. Marshall went down the floor, but Kareem Canty’s three-point attempt from the top of the key was no good. Woodard then got the rebound and threw an outlet pass down the right sideline to teammate Pat Swilling, Jr. who knocked down a transition three-pointer off the right wing.
That sequence took 25 seconds and resulted in an 8-0 run by Tulsa to take a 50-45 lead. From that point on, the Golden Hurricane never looked back, going on a 27-10 run over the final 10:58 of play to get to the final score of 69-52.
Marshall coach Tom Herrion reiterated Manning’s thoughts about the game changing drastically during the halftime break, adding that the quick run by Tulsa caused his team to panic.
“No level of consistency on the defensive end of the floor, then I thought we contributed to that by panicking and shooting the ball quick and taking bad shots in that same stretch,” Herrion said.
With the loss, Marshall to 6-13 overall, and its first 0-4 start in conference play since the Herd’s final year as a member of the Mid-American Conference. Tulsa improved to 8-10 overall and 3-1 in Conference USA.
— Braxton Crisp