Marshall comes undone in second half, falls to Appalachian State, 65-58

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Kevon Voyles started Senior Night on a high note as he scored 14 first-half points to help Marshall to the lead over Appalachian State at the break, 29-23.

Midway through the second half, Voyles and his teammates saw their play go awry and the Mountaineers play like the Sun Belt Conference leader. Appalachian State drained four threes in the second half along with 12-of-15 free throws, many down the stretch, and knocked off the Thundering Herd, 65-58, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,711 at Cam Henderson Center and those watching the national broadcast on ESPN2.

“We played hard,” said Voyles, one of four seniors on the team. “We got to hit more shots. Back in the gym and shoot. We’re right there. Little mistakes.”

Voyles made a layup with 8:07 left to get the Herd within two (43-41) and get the crowd fired up. On their next trip down the floor, Myles Tate drained a three for the Mountaineers with 7:46 on the clock to get the lead back to five (46-41) and quiet the crowd a bit. From that point, the visitors made clutch shots and crucial free throws in the closing minutes to prevail.

Appalachian State (24-5, 14-2 SBC) trailed at the half 29-23. The first-half point total tied a season-low the Mountaineers had in a loss to UNC Asheville back on Dec. 21.

“We didn’t shoot well enough,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Kids played hard. When you get 32 (24-of-72) and 13 (3-of-23 on threes) and you play the best team in the league, it won’t happen. We’ve got to get someone to put the ball in the bucket. I don’t know how to do that.”

Voyles hit 8-of-16 shots (two threes). Kamdyn Curfman, another senior matched Voyles with 19 points. He made 8-of-19, but only 1-of-8 from three. He’s the top three-point shooter in the league. Jacob Conner went 1-of-12 and Wyatt Fricks 1-of-6.

“Good news we competed, played hard enough to win. Bad news when we’re wide open you’ve got to make the shots,” D’Antoni said. “Against James Madison we didn’t compete the way you have to against the top teams in the league. Got to get our heads on straight. We’re good enough, athletic enough. The shots are going to come. It can turn on one night. Our team won’t quit on Marshall. Hope our fans don’t quit on us.”

Myles Tate led Appalachian State with 25 points. He canned 9-of-14 shots including four threes. Donovan Gregory scored 15 and Terence Harcum 12.

Marshall is 12-16, 7-9 SBC and lost five in a row. The Herd is tied with Georgia State for seventh. Marshall closes out the regular season with a swing through Georgia. The Herd visits Georgia Southern on Wednesday and Georgia State on Friday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

“Two games and then the tournament,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll fight to the end.”

The SBC Tournament is scheduled March 5-11 in Pensacola, Fla.

“We need everybody to step up,” Voyles, who came to the Herd from Maryland Eastern Shore via the transfer portal. “Get ready for these two, then go to Pensacola and shock some people.”

One player Voyles and D’Antoni want to see play like the team’s leading scorer is Obinna Anochili-Killen. He had just eight points and four rebounds. In the three previous games, he had a total of seven points.

“I tell him every day he’s our leading scorer,” Voyles said. “I want to see you do it. Go out and be confident. Keep going, the shots are going to fall.”

“He comes in and tries to get out of the slump,” D’Antoni said. “Sometimes it’s a mystery. I tell them don’t listen to social media.”

The Herd had some special guests arrive during the second half. With 15:21 left, the women’s team walked to halfcourt and got a standing ovation from the crowd. Earlier in the day, the Herd beat ULM to clinch at least a tie for the league’s regular-season title.

Marshall and Appalachian State used to be rivals in the Southern Conference. The Herd leads the series 34-20.

Marco Sarenac and Gordan Miladinovic are the other two seniors on the Marshall roster.

— — — — —

Not the best of starts for the Marshall women’s team, but that’s been nothing unusual this season.

UL Monroe outscored the Thundering Herd, 32-17, in the first period on its Senior Day. Then the Herd’s notable three-point shooting and pressure defense kicked in and the visitors chalked up 82 points over the next three periods (62 over the middle two) and defeated the Warhawks, 99-90, in Sun Belt play Saturday at Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La.

Marshall (21-6, 15-1) clinched at least a share of the league’s regular-season title. The Herd, picked to finish ninth in the SBC Preseason Poll, closes out the regular season with two games next week. Georgia State is in Tuesday and Georgia Southern on Friday. Start time for both is 6 p.m.

Marshall connected on 13 three-pointers and netted 31 points off 21 ULM turnovers. Abby Beeman led the way with 25 points. Aislynn Hayes followed with 21, Breanna Campbell 20 and Sydni Scott 12.

Daisha Bradford paced the Warhawks (17-11, 9-7 SBC) with 29 points. Jaykala Johnson contributed 22, Sania Wells 13 and Katlyn Manuel 12. The Warhawks had five three-pointers.

This is the first time the Herd has had 20 or more regular-season wins since 1990-91. Marshall leads the series with ULM 2-1. This is ULM’s first winning season since 2010-11.

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