Marshall earns second home win over ODU, 74-66

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Marshall University men’s basketball team started bonus play in Conference USA the way it wanted to Saturday night.

The Thundering Herd had five players reach double figures and it used a late run to get past Old Dominion, 74-66, in front of 5,916 fans at Cam Henderson Center.

Marshall, with its second home win over the Monarchs this season, improved .500 overall (14-14) and got a game over .500 (8-7) in C-USA. Marshall is in Pod No. 2.

“The ball is distributed by how they play defense,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said in how the team finished with five in double figures. “Defense determines who shoots. The threes push the defense out, then it flips and we attack the rim.”

Old Dominion took a 55-52 lead at the 11:20 mark of the second half before Marshall went on an 11-0 run to take a 63-55 advantage with 4:56 to play. The Monarchs answered right back with a 5-0 run of their own, cutting the deficit down to 63-60 with 3:17 remaining in regulation. The Thundering Herd again answered, this time with a 6-0 run to make it 69-60 with 2:14 left — and that was it.

“We got off to a good start tonight,” Marshall guard Jarrod West said. “It’s a tough last stretch. This is big for us. We had a lot of defensive intensity. We moved the ball and made shots. We clicked tonight.”

West led Marshall with 18 points. Jannson Williams, Iran Bennett and Taevion Kinsey each had 14 and Andrew Taylor 10. Williams also pulled down 13 rebounds for a double-double before he fouled out late.

Bennett, who is 6-foot-9, had five of Marshall’s 11 blocked shots. The Herd is No. 2 in C-USA in that category with 169. West had three steals to bring his league-leading total to 61.

“People realize we’re very long and athletic,” Williams said. “It’s tough to score points on us in the paint. The way our offense ran is what we’ve been looking for.”

Having Bennett go the distance is vital for the Herd. When he gets in early foul trouble, it causes problems.

“When he plays freely, he’s OK,” D’Antoni said. “If he starts tiptoeing, we’re in trouble.”

Marshall’s next game is Thursday at UAB. The Blazers won 61-50 on Jan. 11 in Birmingham, Ala. Tip is 8 p.m.

Malik Curry led Old Dominion with 24 points. Xavier Green added 15 and Joe Reece had 14. Aaron Carver totaled a game-high 17 rebounds.

“I couldn’t have asked anymore from our guys in terms of effort, I thought we really, really competed,” Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said. “I thought we did a terrific job defensively, it just came down to a stretch late in the second half, when both teams were struggling to score and I think we blinked first. There were some real poor decisions in regards to shot selection on our part. Marshall was able to get some timely buckets.”

Marshall’s bench had just four points and that didn’t surprise Jones. Herd starters delivered most of the night.

“Essentially the same team we saw the first time, just better,” Jones said. “They rotate bodies in and it makes it tough on us. You know what you’re going to get from West and Kinsey. They’ll be a force to reckon with. The contrast between bench and starter is more blurry for them than it is for most of us. They put those guys in and they aren’t afraid to make those threes. They took what was there. Everybody kind of chipped in.”

The overall series is now tied 11-11.

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