HUNTINGTON -- Somehow, Marshall got back in its game Saturday night against Alabama-Birmingham despite a hideous streak of 19 missed field-goal attempts, even tying it in the final three minutes.The Thundering Herd had a chance to tie it again after a steal off an inbounds pass with 10 seconds left. Alas, Tamron Manning's attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer missed, allowing UAB to draw a foul, hit a free throw and escape with a 52-48 win.Manning's shot was Marshall's 42nd miss from the floor and the 23rd missed 3-point try, and that ultimately prevented the Herd from its second straight Conference USA win. The Herd shot 26.3 percent, but that came up from the 16.2 percent level it was at four minutes into the second half.Still, that is a new season low.
"It's 42 field goals we missed, and we missed every conceivable shot," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "We missed point-blank layups, we missed 3s, we missed mid-range shots and we missed 11 free throws."And for a span of 12 minutes, 43 seconds - the final 8:40 of the first half and first 4:03 of the second - the Herd missed everything, save for a single free throw out of four tries.There were six turnovers sprinkled in, combining to cause 20 out of 21 empty possessions in that span. But the Blazers, not exactly scorching the nets at 30.2 percent, "only" outscored the Herd 22-1, taking a 36-17 lead with 17:27 left.About a minute and a half later, Elijah Pittman woke up to hit three unanswered 3-pointers - the Herd's only such baskets in 26 tries. Four free throws and a Dennis Tinnon mid-range jumper later, the score was suddenly 36-32 and the 6,614 at Cam Henderson Center shook off the cobwebs.The teams sputtered along for the next five-plus minutes before Rod Rucker's three-point play with 6:32 left put the Blazers up 46-38. But the Herd answered with the next eight points, tying the game at 46 and forcing UAB coach Jerod Haase to take a timeout with 2:48 left.The Herd didn't fare well at either end in those final minutes. Two chances to take the lead went awry - DeAndre Kane threw a bad pass while airborne and Nigel Spikes missed his third and fourth consecutive free throws.At the other end, Jordan Swing made the Herd pay, scooting past Pittman to make an easy runner in the lane to make it 49-46 with 53 seconds left. Kane and Pittman tried to tie it but missed 3-pointers.But UAB couldn't close it out immediately. Just getting into the bonus with 30 seconds left, Preston Purifoy - 91.7 percent from the line on the season - bricked the front end. Ten seconds (and that Pittman missed 3) later, Robert Williams followed suit.The Herd lost the scramble for the rebound, though, with Williams gaining possession and Haase calling timeout. Swing got to the line after the break and didn't miss, giving UAB a 51-46 lead.Quickly driving to the basket, Kane almost made a shot in traffic but did pick up the foul and sink two free throws to make it 51-48 with 10 seconds left. Marshall scratched out one more chance to tie it, forcing a bad inbounds pass and stealing it.Kane came up with the ball at the top of the lane and slipped it left to Manning, who had to dribble back to the 3-point arc and launch the shot. In hindsight, the freshman may have been able to toss a cross-court pass to set up a better look.
"You're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Herrion said. "Maybe [you] call a timeout on the change of possession, but they're in a scramble. Tamron got a shot up, a freshman in that situation, you know."I don't think he had a great awareness of how much time was left, because we had five when it was in the air, five seconds to go. Maybe he 'skips' that; I'll have to watch [the game video], it happened so quickly."Pittman led all scorers with 18 points, though he went 5 of 15 from the floor and 3 of 11 from 3-point range. Spikes had nine points and 15 rebounds, and Kane had nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.Swing had his second double-double in a row with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Rucker had 13 points and eight boards - 11 and eight in the second half. Williams had a team-high 11 rebounds as UAB won that battle 50-45.For the Herd (12-16, 5-8), the loss damages its chances to land one of five first-round byes in the Conference USA tournament. Now sitting in ninth place (eighth when you remove postseason-ineligible Central Florida), the Herd probably needs to win out to have a chance to move up.UAB (13-14, 5-7), 5-2 over the last seven games, hopscotched over the Herd into eighth (or seventh without UCF).
BRIEFLY:Marshall hasn't won two consecutive Conference USA games in a full calendar year, a three-game streak that went through Feb. 22, 2012. ... Birmingham native D.D. Scarver went 1 of 10, 0 of 7 from 3-point range, making him 1 of 17, 0 of 9 in two games against UAB.
At HuntingtonUAB (13-14, 5-7 C-USA) M FG FT R A PRod Rucker 27 6-14 1-1 8 1 13Jordan Swing 38 6-15 2-2 10 1 15Robert Williams 30 3-8 0-1 11 3 6Preston Purifoy 21 1-7 2-3 3 0 5Quincy Taylor 36 1-3 1-2 2 5 4A. Williamson 2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0Terence Jones 22 1-8 1-2 1 0 4Fahro Alihodzic 24 1-8 3-4 6 0 5Team 9Totals: 200 19-63 10-15 50 10 52MARSHALL (12-16, 5-8) M FG FT R A PRobert Goff 21 1-6 2-3 6 1 4Elijah Pittman 35 5-15 5-6 5 0 18Nigel Spikes 29 3-6 3-9 15 1 9D.D. Scarver 21 1-10 0-0 1 1 2DeAndre Kane 40 3-13 3-6 7 3 9DeVince Boykins 7 0-0 0-0 1 1 0Tamron Manning 17 0-2 2-2 1 2 2Team 3Totals: 200 15-57 15-26 45 9 48 Half: UAB 30-17. 3-point goals: UAB 4-18 (Jordan 1-6, Williams 0-1, Purifoy 1-3, Taylor 1-2, Jones 1-6); MU 3-26 (Pittman 3-11, Scarver 0-7, Kane 0-5, Tinnon 0-1, Manning 0-2). Technical fouls: Pittman. Fouled out: Alihodzic. Attendance: 6,614.Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.