Marshall builds big first-half lead, tops Florida International, 80-69

— By David Walsh

What Marshall missed in the first game, it found in the second as the Thundering Herd knocked off Florida International, 80-69, in its second game in the Cayman Island Classic played at John Gray Gymnasium in George Town, Cayman Islands.

“We came out with some intensity which we didn’t show in the first game,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “I’m real happy with Jacob Conner and how he started the game, coming out and playing freely. We played hard and with more intensity. We shot the ball better.”

Marshall’s Nate Martin netted 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Conner totaled 15 points to tie his career-high. He shot 5-of-9 including 3-for-5 from three-point range. The Herd’s Kevon Voyles led the offense with 18 points. He converted 11-of-12 from the foul line. Wyatt Fricks also scored 15 points thanks to 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Obinna Anochili-Killen did not make the trip due to visa issues.

Jonathan Ayber paced the Panthers (1-5) with 13 points. Petar Krivokapic added 12 and Arturo Dean 11.

FIU led Marshall, 8-6, with 16:56 left in the first half. The Herd dominated from there, scoring 38 points and holding the Panthers to 17 to grab a 44-25 lead at intermission.

FIU got the deficit to as low as six in the second half, but Marshall held the Panthers off. Last night, Utah State led the Herd by five points with eight minutes left, then rolled an won going away, 83-60.

Marshall (2-2)  sank 26-of-52 shots for the game. The Herd went 17-of-33 in the first 20 minutes. At the foul line, Marshall excelled as it made 21 of its 22 attempts.

Marshall closes out the tournament Tuesday against the Oakland Grizzlies. Tipoff is 1:30 p.m. The Herd will return to action Friday at Kentucky. The No. 16 Wildcats defeated St. Joseph’s 96-88, Monday night in the Wildcat Challenge. UK is 4-0 at Rupp Arena.

In earlier games Monday, Oakland beat Loyola Marymount, 74-69; and Stephen F. Austin knocked off Drake, 92-68. In the nightcap, Utah State edged Akron, 65-62.

Games Tuesday are Loyola Marymount vs. FIU, Marshall vs. Oakland, Drake vs. Akron and Utah State vs. Stephen F. Austin.

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