Herd handled by James Madison, 84-58

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall had been playing catchup against James Madison all evening.

With 16:55 left in the game, Wyatt Fricks scored on a follow to get the Thundering Herd within nine (40-31) and offer fans a glimmer of home for a comeback.

Instead, Jayden Carey makes two free throws for the Dukes and Noah Freidel drained back-to-back three-pointers to increase the lead to 17 points with 14:26 on the clock and all but settle the issue. The Herd would get no closer than 11 the rest of the contest.

James Madison (25-3, 12-3 Sun Belt Conference) entered the night the top shooting and scoring team in the league and lived up to the billing with a 26 of 52 effort and blitzed the Herd, 84-58, Wednesday night in front of 4,595 fans at Cam Henderson Center.

Midway through the second half, quite a few fans headed to the exits. The 58 points are a single-game home low this season.

James Madison, third in the league from three, hit 13 of 23. On the flip side, Marshall, Marshall, 14th in the SBC in shooting and 13th in three-point shooting, converted just 20 of 64 from the field and 4 of 22 from three.

“We had some wide open threes,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Just hit one. We miss them all. Miss free throws, miss layups. We’ve got to try to clear the air. We played them decent there (67-52 loss), not here. We’ve lost half a step. When everyone around doesn’t have that positive push, we’ve got to fight through. We get it to nine and they get two threes in transition. That’s on us. We sit back and watch. They put it on us. That energy of focus, some reason we don’t have it.”

Freidel, 4 of 6 from three, led the Dukes with 19 points. Julien Wooden, also 4 of 6 from three, added 18 points. Terrence Edwards netted 16 and was 3 of 4 from three. T.J. Bickerstaff finished with 12.

“It was rough game. They’re physical. We’ve got to fight through that. We’ve got to make shots, make plays. There’s a malaise over us. We’ve got to try to beat it.”

Nate Martin led the Herd (12-16, 7-8 Sun Belt) with 12 points and 16 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season. Jacob Conner had two threes, but Kevon Voyles (1 of 5), Kamdyn Curfman (0-of-8) and Cam Crawford (1 of 6) is a combined 2 of 19. Marshall is assured a losing regular-season record as only three games remain.

It marked Marshall’s fourth straight setback.

“They were really physical. We got hit, but we didn’t stay down,” Herd freshman guard Ryan Nutter said. “We got good looks. We didn’t knock down shots. It’s more frustrating that you play bad. The whole team, the mental state. We get what we want, it just doesn’t fall the right way.”

James Madison extended its win streak to seven and set a program record for wins in a season with No. 25. Against Marshall, the Dukes lead the series 6-2 and have won three straight in Huntington.

“We’ve got to start to believe,” D’Antoni said. “Some players lack confidence in a game. They have to see they are better players and make the play.”

Marshall’s next game is Saturday against Appalachian State. Start time is 6 p.m. for the national telecast on ESPN2. It’s Senior Night. The four departing are Voyles, Curfman, Marko Sarenac and Goran Miladinovic.

“The two foreign guys are outstanding students. They never complain,” D’Antoni said. “They’ve been a asset to Marshall. Curfman’s a top shooter, but he’s had a bad year this year. He’s had a bigger role. Kevon came on late (transfer portal). We were lucky to get that quality.”

D’Antoni also would love to see Obinna Anochili-Killen up the production. He had another tough night Wednesday with one basket and one rebound in just over 11 minutes. He came in the team’s leading scorer at 15.5.

Nutter and Martin know the importance of Saturday’s game.

“The seniors have done everything they can for us,” Nutter said. “We want to win for them.’

“It’s been rough the past few games,” Martin said. “We’re right there. We won’t quit.”

— — — — —

The Marshall women outscored Texas State 27-5 in the second period and used separate runs of 12 or more points to romp, 85-59, in Sun Belt Conference play Wednesday night at Strahan Arena in San Marcos, Texas.

The Thundering Herd drained a season-high 17 three-pointers with six from Sydni Scott for 18 points. And the Herd’s pressing defense forced 33 turnovers and accounted for 28 points.

Marshall is the SBC leader at 13-1, 20-6 overall. It’s the sixth time in program history the team has reached 20 wins and first time for 20 regular-season wins since the 1990-91 season.

Marshall, in its first visit to Texas State, trailed 21-9 before scoring 33 of the game’s 40 points to take a 42-28 lead at the half. The Bobcats are 13-15, 3-12 in the SBC.

Abby Beeman also had 18 points for the Herd. Aislynn Hayes and Meredith Maier netted 17 each. Maier hit five threes.

The Herd plays its final road game Saturday at ULF. Tip is 1 p.m. One more win would clinch at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title.

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