HUNTINGTON, W.Va.— The Thundering Herd used a 16-0 run to start the second half to erase an 11-point deficit and hung on for a 64-61 win over East Carolina.
The Herd exploded to a 20-7 advantage in the first 8:59 of play, including sophomore Chris Thomas scoring nine of the Herd’s first 11 points. From the 11:01 mark of the first half though, East Carolina went on a 34-10 run to close out the first half on top 41-30 over Marshall.
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion says after the Pirates took the 11-point advantage into halftime, the Herd knew it had to make a statement in the second half.
“Our defense was much much better in the second half, especially on [Akeem] Richmond” Herrion says. “Chris Thomas by far did a phenomenal job, probably his most complete game as a Herd player on both ends of the floor.”
In the first half, Richmond had four 3-pointers, but in the second half, the Herd played man defense against the Pirates with Thomas guarding Richmond holding him to just one made 3-point basket.
East Carolina came back to take a seven point lead at the 4:32 mark by the game’s leading scorer Caleb White. From that point, the Herd went on a 10-0 run to close the game, which included a 3 by Kareem Canty, a layup by Shawn Smith and the game winning and-1 by Ryan Taylor, who went strong to the basket and finished off the left block through contact. The basket tied the game at 61 and Taylor converted the three point play to give the Herd the lead at 62-61 with 10 seconds to go.
Richmond had a chance for a three with five seconds to play, but the shot was blocked by Thomas and Canty was fouled by Richmond three seconds later. Canty made both free throws to ice the game for the Herd.
Thomas says defending the final shot by Richmond was a challenge, but he was able to come through and prevent the Pirates from tying it at 64.
“They set two screens for him and I got stuck on the first one but the second player didn’t really screen me so it gave me time to recover to my man and he’s only six-feet tall and I’m 6’5” so I just used my length to make it a tough shot,” Thomas says.
Following the game, Herrion spoke highly of Thomas’ improvements defensively to this point from the beginning of the season.
“I asked him what ‘defense’ was and he said ‘it’s that white thing around the house,’” Herrion says. “He’s come a long way. In the second half he was terrific, and we had to be against the three.”
Marshall Men’s Basketball closed the record book on games against East Carolina in regular season Conference USA games with a win over the Pirates by a score of 64-61 on Sunday in Huntington. With the win, Marshall improved to 10-20 overall and 4-11 in conference play, while the Pirates fell to 16-14 overall and 5-10 in conference.
Marshall will finish the regular season at home on Thursday night, when the Charlotte 49ers head to the Cam Henderson Center. Not only will the game be senior night for Marshall’s Yous Mbao, it will also be Charlotte guard and former two-sport athlete at South Charleston High School Pierria Henry’s first game in Huntington in college.
— Braxton Crisp