HUNTINGTON — The tortoise beat the hare again.
Campbell (3-1) used a deliberate style to its advantage against usually quick-paced Marshall (2-1) to edge the Thundering Herd 67-65 Thursday night in men’s college basketball in front of 4,100 spectators at Cam Henderson Center.
When the Camels made five or more passes, the result was easy shots. The formula worked as Campbell took a 12-point lead in the first half, then held on. The slower pace appeared to bother Marshall’s players, who at times rushed shots, leading to a 3-for-24 performance from 3-point range.
“They have these expectations of a great season and put those expectations on themselves and play iffy,” Herd coach Danny D’Antoni said of his players.
Marshall had its chances, rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit to take a 65-64 lead on Obinna Anochili-Killen’s athletic dunk off an Andrew Taylor miss to put the Herd ahead 65-64 with 45 seconds to play. The lead was MU’s first since Darius George began the game with a 3-pointer at 19:19.
Campbell, though, responded like the veteran team it is. Senior guard Ricky Clemons scored from the lane with 24 seconds to play to make it 66-65. After a Marshall turnover, junior guard Messiah Thompson made the second of two free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining to set the score.
George’s desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim after he corralled the ball when the Camels’ Cedric Henderson deflected a pass to him.
“I wish I had that last play over,” D’Antoni said, adding that he might have called time out.
Campbell moved the ball well and was more deliberate and disciplined than the Herd. The Camels hurt Marshall with backdoor cuts for easy layups or open jump shots. Thompson made a 3-pointer with no one within 10 feet of him with 3:47 to play, drawing groans from a crowd unhappy with how open he was. That basket capped an 8-0 run to give Campbell a 64-56 lead.
George, who finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, lamented that Campbell was able to play its game better than Marshall was able to play its style.
“Defensive breakdowns,” George said after being asked what went wrong. “Their back-door cutting. They made easy layups, easy 3s. We practiced that for two days. That’s on us.”
The Camels built a 21-9 lead, then withstood a Marshall run that cut the deficit to 23-19 on a flashy George dunk off a Taevion Kinsey miss with 2:44 left in the first half. Campbell closed with a 7-2 run for a 30-22 advantage at the break.
Marshall switched from man-to-man to zone defense and back to man trying to disrupt Campbell, but the Herd didn’t find a rhythm on offense, making merely 9 of 30 mostly quick shots in digging a first-half hole. The Herd didn’t improve enough in the final 20 minutes, finishing 25 of 63 from the floor.
“They’re a pretty good ball club,” D’Antoni said of Campbell. “They play hard and you have to beat them. They’re not going to beat themselves. They ran their offense through, but that’s not what beat us. You can’t go 3 for 24.”
Anochili-Killen came off the bench to score 13 points and snatched eight rebounds. Kinsey and Taylor each scored 10 points.
Henderson led Campbell with 21 points. Jordan Whitfield scored 15 and Thompson came off the bench to score 13. Clemons snagged a team-best eight rebounds.
Marshall returns to action at 2 p.m. Sunday at home vs. Jackson State (0-3).