— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Duquesne’s lead just grew and grew. A 10-0 run by the Dukes gave them a 28-11 lead over Marshall when Primo Spears nailed a 3-pointer with 6:12 left in the half.
At that point, the Thundering Herd dug down deep and started down the comeback trail. Even though Andy Taylor made just one triple, it turned out to be the eventual game-winner with 9 seconds left and when Marko Sarenac blocked a shot at the buzzer, Marshall escaped with the win, 72-71, in front of 4,367 fans Saturday night at Cam Henderson Center.
“You know we’ve got a never quit mentality and that takes you a long way,” the Herd’s Taevion Kinsey said. “We went out there and they were beating us bad the first half. We came out the second half and shot like that first half never happened. That was definitely a hard-fought win.”
Marshall (5-3) managed to cut the deficit to 33-26 at halftime despite missing all 13 three-point shots and the Dukes nailed five. The Herd had good fortune to close on a 15-5 run.
Sarenac connected on a three-pointer with 10:42 left to give Marshall its first lead at 48-46 and the two teams went back and forth from that point. Kevin Easley’s jumper with 1:58 to play put Duquesne up, 71-69.
After that, Kinsey missed two shots and the Herd suffered a turnover, but the Dukes (3-6) didn’t cash in to expand the lead. Spears missed a shot with 17 seconds left.
Marshall got the rebound and Kinsey found Taylor open for a three and he drained the shot for the lead, 72-71. Sarenac got the closing block at the end, and after confirmation by the officials, time was out and the Herd made up a bit for letting one get away Wednesday at Akron (88-86 loss).
“Obviously it was a slow start. I’m going to attribute it to the lineup change (the insertion of David Early and Obinna Anochili-Killen into Saturday’s starting lineup),” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We’re young, but they fought. We were down seven, 0-for-13 from the three at the end of the first half. They gave you their heart and that’s all you can ask for.”
Kinsey led the Herd with 21 points to go with six rebounds and six assists and zero turnovers in 40 minutes. Anochili-Killen, who got into foul trouble and failed to score or block a shot at Akron, tallied 13 points and rejected four shots. Darius George led in rebounds with eight.
Primo led all scorers with a career-high 23 points. Tre Williamson had 14, Tyson Acuff 11 and Kevin Easley 10.
A made free throw by Anochili-Killen tied the game, 69-69, with 2:13 left, but Easley’s jumper gave the Dukes their final lead.
On the decisive play, Kinsey got a rebound with 14 seconds left, rushed the ball up the court and dished it to Taylor. The point guard gave a pump fake, and nailed a corner three for the lead.
“I’m just glad I hit the last one,” Taylor said. “I feel like it was just a blessing from God to hit that last one. I feel like we had some defensive breakdowns and I’m older so I cannot be doing that. I have to watch film and be a better leader for the guys.”
Marshall, which likes the three in D’Antoni’s system, missed 15 straight before Anochili-Killen nailed one with 13:33 left to play. That basket triggered a 13-0 Marshall run over the next three minutes, which included two more threes, to give the Herd a 48-46 lead with 10:42 to play.
Kinsey, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, reached double figures for the 42nd straight game. The Herd has made a three in 978 straight games. The last game without a triple was Feb. 27, 1989 in a win over Appalachian State.
For Early and Anochili-Killen, it was their first starts of the season. It was Anochili-Killen’s 18th career start and No. 2 for Early.
Marshall’s next game is Wednesday at home against Bluefield University. Game time is 7 p.m.