By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON – Marshall got it going on both ends of the floor in the final ten minutes of its season opener, sparking the Thundering Herd past Arkansas State, 70-56, Friday afternoon.
Marshall, which had Wednesday’s scheduled opener against Coppin State canceled due to Coronavirus issues for Coppin State, led 42-39 with 10:39 left in the contest at the Cam Henderson Center.
Taevion Kinsey started the second half run for Marshall with two free throws with 9:54 left. Defensive pressure and several ally-oop layups off the turnovers got the Herd off from that point to the runaway.
“The defense was really good,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said of the post-game radio show on the Herd Network. “The one spurt on offense is what we’re capable of. Got to go get some motor oil. Our offensive machine is not greased up yet.”
Kinsey led Marshall with 17 points and seven rebounds. He missed much of the first half after taking a bump on the head when he collided with Arkansas State’s Christian Willis early in the first half.
“It hurt so bad,” Kinsey said in the post-game zoom interview. “I thought, ‘why me?’ Then I changed my attitude. I tried to get them to hurry up and fix me up. It’s a pretty ugly cut.”
Kinsey finished the game with a bandage over the left eye.
Darius George came off the bench to hit for 15 points. He converted all six of his shots from the floor. West added nine points, eight assists and five steals to move within one of the all-time steals record held by Skip Henderson.
“West’s been that way since he’s been here,” D’Antoni said of his senior standout. “He’s a winner in everything he does.”
George did most of his damage in the second half when the Herd’s defense forced Arkansas State into turnovers and converted the errors into easy points.
“He’s really athletic,” D’Antoni said of George “He can handle the quickness on the wings. They didn’t have the quickness on the lobs.”
Marshall also had 10 blocked shots. Jannson Williams and Obinna Anochili-Killen, a freshman, led the way with three each.
Marquis Eaton led the Red Wolves with 13 points and Caleb Fields added 12. The Sun Belt Conference member converted just 11-of-23 free throws. The visitors had just four players back from a 16-16 season a year ago.
Arkansas State was a sub opponent for the Herd after Coppin State and Tennessee State did not play due to COVID-19 issues. The Red Wolves did work on scheduling while here, securing a Sunday afternoon game against Morehead State in Morehead, Ky.
Marshall’s next game is Dec. 4 at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. That game has been pushed back a day so Wright State can get over its COVID-19 issues and practice.
“We adjusted pretty well,” Kinsey said.
“Not a bad opener,” D’Antoni said. “They had two tough penetrating guards. We handled it.”