Marshall comfortably defeats Ohio, 83-69

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall held a 6-5 lead over Ohio and nearly 7 minutes had gone off the first-half clock.

Not to worry Thundering Herd fans. Kamdyn Curfman nailed a 3-pointer with 13:04 left in the first half that triggered a 9-0 run for a 15-5 lead that Marshall built on until late when the the victory margin shrunk to 83-69 over the Bobcats in front of a season-high home crowd of 5,180 on the White Out promotion.

Ohio, a former Mid-American Conference rival of the Herd, likes to get physical, but failed to do so on this afternoon. Before Saturday, Ohio foes averaged 69 points per game.

“They’re very physical. Our speed kept them from being physical,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We play at a hard pace to stay up with.”

Micah Handlogten, Marshall’s 7-foot-1 big man, tracked down a loose ball on the Herd end of the floor with just seconds left in the half, raced the length of the court and scored on a layup in the paint just before the buzzer went off. The officials checked the replay, saw the freshman had beat the clock and ruled count the two for a 43-22 lead at halftime.

“Defense, we build off on offense,” the Herd’s Taevion Kinsey said. “We have a lot of people who can score. We help each other on defense. That’s what coach Dan hones in on.

“Start fast, we knew we could. We’re hard to stop on offense. Thank the crowd. We feed off their energy. We kept our foot on the pedal.”

Marshall (7-1) extended its win streak to seven. The Bobcats fall to 4-4.

A year ago, Ohio beat the Herd in Athens and that started Marshall on a 10-game losing streak en route to a 12-21 overall record.

“Feels great,” Kinsey said of the current win streak. “We don’t dwell on it. We remember the slide. We use it as motivation. Everybody questioned themselves, took a good look in the mirror. Get in shape, stay in shape and block out the noise. So far good.”

D’Antoni agreed, adding Kinsey and fellow guard Andrew Taylor served and continue to serve as sparks.

“Started over the summer,” D’Antoni said. “They hated what happened last year. They came back ready to play. More focused. I’m proud of them.

“We go 1-of-11 and still are up two. You can tell the difference from past teams to this team. Hold in there until you get it going and forget to play defense. This one comes back tougher on defense.”

Obinna Anochili-Killen had 16 points and six rebounds. Taylor had a team-high 19 points and Kinsey added 18 and team-high nine rebounds. Curfman finished with 11 and Jacob Conner 10.

D’Antoni was happy to see Anochili-Killen’s numbers rise.

“He picked up his game a little,” D’Antoni said. “Still not satisfied. There’s more that he can offer this team.”

Anochili-Killen enjoys being paired up down low with Handlogten.

“We’ve got guys who can shoot,” Anochili-Killen said. “Me and Micah are on both sides of the boards. It’s been pretty fun so far.”

“Ball movement,” Kinsey added. “When we come to the locker room it’s athletic ball. Go with it. We have a lot of weapons on the bench. Last year we had a lot of 1-on-1 one and teams stopped us. It’s easy to share the ball knowing my guys are hitting shots.”

Curfman, transfer from VMI, is the Herd’s three-point specialist and let a few go from deep Saturday. Didn’t bother anyone in a Herd uniform.

“We expect that,” Kinsey said. “It doesn’t affect us. Fans probably ask why? It’s part of our offense.”\

Marshall, first-year Sun Belt Conference member, returns to action Thursday at Duquesne. The Herd visits Robert Morris next Saturday and travel to UNC Greensboro on Dec. 13.

Dwight Wilson III led the Bobcats with 16 points and six rebounds. Gabe Wiznitzer netted a career-high 15 points and AJ Brown 11.

The final margin is as close as Ohio would get in the second half.

“We’ve got four new guys,” D’Antoni said of Curfman, Handlogten, Conner and Wyatt Fricks. “We solid. We’re long. Give credit to my staff. Long, athletic and skilled. They fit my style.”

Ohio leads the overall series 57-50. The two teams are now 7-7 in the last 14 meetings.

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