Herd rolls in hoops opener

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's opening win Friday night over South Carolina State was one part sloppiness, one part opening jitters and several parts domination.Elijah Pittman supplied much of that last item, scoring a career-high 31 points in the Thundering Herd's 85-69 win over the Bulldogs. Ryan Taylor had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Kareem Canty had 15 points and five assists.The 5,067 at Cam Henderson Center left knowing how deceptive the final margin was. The Thundering Herd overran the Bulldogs in the first 11 minutes of the second half, taking a 77-45 lead."Thought we did an excellent job stretching it to 30-plus," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "We did a poor job maintaining, took our foot off the gas, sloppy down the stretch. Offensively, we played way too quick and fast, and we shot on one touch, too many 3s. I didn't like us on offense.
"We settled in and Taylor was a big component against the zone. He attacked from the high post and really bothered them. The press, I thought, just wore them down."Pittman broke his old career high of 23 points, set last season against Tulane, along with career bests for field goals made (nine), 3-pointers made (five), made free throws (eight) and attempted (15). The final line: 9 of 17 from the floor, 5 of 11 from 3-point range, 8 of 15 from the line in 29 minutes. He also had four steals.The Herd's lone returning starter from 2012-13 was feeling it from outside."My teammates, they kept helping me, they gave me the ball. They realized I was hot," Pittman said. "It's all a team thing."Marshall struggled early before running out to a 44-30 halftime lead and then flamboyantly dropping the hammer on the visitors from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.The first half ended plenty well for the Herd. In one stretch, Pittman flew through three defenders for a fast-break dunk and rejected Luka Radovic at the other end. Chris Thomas got in the act, throwing a behind-the-head pass to Taylor for a slam. Then Thomas stole the ball and fired a long pass to Pittman for a 42-27 lead.MU put on a 9-2 run to start the second half, started by Taylor's powerful move to the bucket. The final dagger was an entertaining 17-4 run that gave the Herd a 74-43 lead, as Pittman fired his fifth 3-pointer and added a three-point play.At the under-eight radio timeout, the Herd was outshooting the Bulldogs 46.2 percent to 33.3 percent, owned a 38-37 edge in rebounding and had forced 18 turnovers, 12 on steals. At 77-48, the only issue how wide that lead would grow.Or shrink, as it happened. As Marshall finished 2 of 12 from the floor, gave up six offensive rebounds and didn't force another turnover, SC State hustled to shave the lead down to the final margin of 16.Herrion was unhappy with the final rebounding deficit (51-46, 20-15 offensive) and the 3-point shooting (7 of 30). Take away Pittman's 5 of 11 and Canty's 2 of 5, and the rest of the team went 0 for 14."We're no mosaic or oil painting, by any stretch," Herrion said. "We're more like water colors."
Matthew Hezeikiah led the Bulldogs, who used 15 players, with 19 points.
  • BRIEFLY: The Herd's starting five, however relevant that may be, was Canty, DeVince Boykins, Pittman, Taylor and Cheikh Sane. ... MU was without Justin Edmonds and JP Kambola, who remained on the bench in warmups. ... Shawn Smith had a forgettable college debut, fouling out with two points in just eight minutes. ... Walk-on Austin Loop made his college debut but did not score in eight minutes.
  • Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.MARSHALL 85, SC STATE 69   FG FT Reb SC STATE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
    White 20 1-5 2-2 0-2 3 4 4Adams 12 2-5 0-2 0-1 0 4 5Myers 11 1-2 0-0 1-4 2 3 2Hezekiah 27 9-13 1-3 3-6 1 2 19Palmer 18 2-8 0-1 3-8 0 4 4Stephens 10 2-5 0-0 2-4 2 0 6Smith 21 2-7 0-0 0-3 1 2 6Kirksey 13 1-3 4-7 1-3 0 0 6
    Mitchell 5 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 2 0Mortimer 3 0-0 0-4 0-0 0 0 0Joint 17 1-4 0-0 2-4 1 2 2Campbell 10 0-4 1-2 1-2 1 1 1Eastmon 11 0-2 2-2 0-2 1 3 2Wright 10 2-4 1-2 1-1 0 1 6Radovic 12 3-4 0-0 3-6 0 1 6Totals 200 26-68 11-26 20-51 12 29 69Percentages: FG .382, FT .423; 3-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (Stephens 2-5, Smith 2-6, Adams 1-2, Wright 1-2, White 0-1, Joint 0-1, Campbell 0-1, Palmer 0-2); Team Rebounds: 5; Blocked Shots: 0; Turnovers: 18 (Mitchell 3, Eastmon 3, Adams 3, Smith 2, Hezekiah 2, White 2, Myers, Joint). Steals: 4 (Joint 2, Hezekiah, Mitchell). Technical Fouls: None.  FG FT Reb MARSHALL Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTSCanty 29 5-10 3-3 1-2 5 0 15Sane 17 1-1 2-2 3-7 1 2 4Boykins 20 1-5 2-5 1-3 0 2 4Pittman 29 9-17 8-15 1-3 0 0 31Taylor 22 6-10 5-6 4-10 0 3 17Smith 9 1-3 0-0 1-1 0 5 2Thomas 19 1-8 1-3 1-6 4 3 3Goard 14 1-2 1-2 2-5 1 2 3Manning 21 1-4 4-5 1-5 5 1 6Mbao 12 0-1 0-0 0-2 0 2 0Loop 8 0-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 0Totals 200 26-64 26-41 15-46 17 22 85Percentages: FG .406, FT .634; 3-Point Goals: 7-30, .233 (Pittman 5-11, Canty 2-5, Smith 0-1, Goard 0-1, Boykins 0-2, Manning 0-2, Taylor 0-2, Thomas 0-3, Loop 0-3); Team Rebounds: 2; Blocked Shots: 8 (Taylor 3, Mbao 2, Manning 2, Pittman); Turnovers: 13 (Canty 3, Thomas 3, Taylor 3, Sane 2, Goard, Manning); Steals: 12 (Pittman 4, Thomas 3, Canty 2, Goard, Taylor, Boykins); Technical Fouls: None.Halftime score: Marshall 44, SC State 30.A-5,067.   
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