— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall eventually got the one-sided contest and coach Dan D’Antoni got to work on numerous rotations as the Thundering Herd finally subdued Milligan, 80-58, Monday night in front of 3,983 fans at Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall is 2-0 and the Buffaloes drop to 0-6. Milligan competes in Appalachian Athletic Conference.
Adam Graham’s layup with 10 minutes left got the Buffaloes within 13 at 58-45. Marko Sarenac responded for the Herd with a three and 61-45 advantage with 9:04 to go. From there, Marshall steadily pulled away. Its biggest lead came 77-48 (29 points) with 4:23 left.
“They played well for a team that’s not going so well,” Herd senior Taevion Kinsey said. “That team can win games. We played a little sloppy, but we got it done.”
Marshall’s next game is Thursday at home against Campbell. Game time is 7 p.m. Sunday’s game against Jackson State has been moved to 4 p.m. The Marshall soccer team received a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday and the first game for the defending College Cup champs is Sunday at home at 1 p.m. against either Providence or Marist.
Kinsey led the Herd with 21 points and passes Hal Greer for 20th spot on the program’s career points. Greer racked up 1,377 and Kinsey’s first basket in the second half moved him ahead of the former Herd great and NBA All-Star. Kinsey also totaled nine assists.
Obinna Anochili-Killen lent support with 12 points and five blocks. Sarenac, with three treys total, added 11. In rebounds, Anochili-Killen and Andy Taylor led with seven each.
Graham led Milligan with 15 points. Levontae Knox added 13, but he had just two in the second half. Trevor Hensley finished with 12.
The win was No. 130 for Herd coach Dan D’Antoni. He passed Rick Huckabay. He needs 232 more wins to catch No. 1 Cam Henderson.
“Because I’m old,” D’Antoni said about his tenure. “He (Huckabay) was a great coach. Basketball’s hot. We’re trying to get it back.”
As for the game, the Herd had the quick start, D’Antoni went to the bench often, Milligan hung around and the home team finally put the issue to bed in the final 10 minutes.
“We had energy, not very good energy,” D’Antoni said. “Got up quick and lost the edge. We let them get into the lane too much. It was a little awkward the way they play. We played a lot of players. I’m a little disappointed in the young guys. They’ve got to come in and step up. They got to experience college ball. I can take a look at that.”
D’Antoni liked what he saw from Sarenac and Anochili-Killen.
“Marko’s much, much better,” D’Antoni said. “He’s more confident and determined. Obinna’s got a feel for the game. He’s gotten a lot better. You can see improve every day.”
D’Antoni said his players have the green light to shoot, but they’ve got to master not rushing them.
“I give them a lot of freedom. I don’t want to cut them off,” D’Antoni said. “They’ll figure it out. This one’s rushed, this one’s not. Eventually they’ll get to solid play.”
Campbell, which is a Big South member, is 2-1. The Camels lost at No. 9 Duke on Saturday, 67-56. They trailed 56-50 with 7:13 to play, then went five minutes without scoring to allow the Blue Devils breathing room. D’Antoni said he heard twice from the media how Campbell gave Duke all it wanted.
“Heard their coach say they do not take home moral victories,” D’Antoni said. “Most of my coaching is on how we play. They’re an established program in their conference. He’s taken their program up. It’s going to be a test. They’re similar to Wright State. A lot of cuts off the ball. All the teams coming in can play.”
The first half went by quickly as each team committed four fouls. Milligan went 2-for-2 at the foul line and the Herd hit 2-of-3.