CLEVELAND, Ohio – As Marshall junior guard Jarrod West came off the floor during Sunday’s matchup with Duquesne, he repeatedly screamed three words that were the theme of the day.
“Run them out!” West screamed.
Marshall did exactly that, running head coach Dan D’Antoni’s NBA style of play to perfection on an NBA floor during an 83-61 win over Duquesne during the second game of the 2019 Cleveland Classic at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
For D’Antoni, the difference was finishing – something the Herd has struggled to do in a rough start to the 2019-20 season.
“At halftime, we were playing well – defensively, really well,” D’Antoni said. “We just talked about finishing games. We haven’t done that with this team, yet. Tonight, I thought they kept the pace up, the defense was strong and we made shots.”
For Marshall junior guard Jarrod West, the key came on the first sequence of the second half.
Marshall (6-7) staked a nine-point halftime lead, but the team had suffered lulls that had caused setbacks throughout the early-season struggles.
On Sunday, the Herd avoided that, forcing a turnover on the first possession of the second half before getting a 3-pointer from Darius George to set the tone.
“That was huge and it was a big shot by Darius,” said West, who finished with a team-high 22 points while adding six assists. “I think our defensive execution was great today. That’s probably the most complete game we’ve played, really.”
Defensively, it set the tone for an effort that limited Duquesne to a negative assist-to-turnover ratio and a 33 percent shooting performance, which included 18 percent from 3-point range.
Offensively, the shot also got George into rhythm for a huge second half in which he scored 13 of his career-high 19 points.
George led a Marshall bench effort that outscored Duquesne, 38-7, in the win.
“Coming off that bench and bringing that energy, I have to do that,” George said. “That’s my role this year and I have to keep doing that and getting all my teammates involved.”
West said that bench production was vital to the continuity of momentum on Sunday afternoon.
“That’s big-time, man,” West said. “That just goes to show what we are capable of and the potential that we have on this team. I mean, 38 points – that’s almost half our points right there. It helps because there’s not a drop-off. We don’t sub someone out and get worse. We get even or better sometimes. That really helps our team.”
Marshall’s defense led to offense throughout the night, and when the Herd got opportunities to string stops together, they made it count on the offensive end with runs that kept the Dukes from getting back into the game.
The Dukes started to whittle the lead away early in the second half, but Marshall’s defense got three stops and forced a turnover that resulted in a George basket during a 9-0 run that pushed the lead to 55-38 with 12:33 left.
Later, Marshall put together an 11-0 run to increase its lead to its biggest margin at 24 points with just 2:09 left.
“I’ve said all along, it’s a growing process,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe this is a good step forward.”
D’Antoni felt as if it was the most complete performance the Herd had seen this season with execution on both ends being strong.
Duquesne started the season with 10 straight wins based on its balanced presence with Marcus Weathers inside and solid 3-point shooting, but the Herd’s ability to close out forged a lead.
The Herd went into the locker room with a 38-29 lead after not allowing the Dukes – who averaged 10 3-pointers per game coming in – to connect on an outside shot in the early going.
The Dukes hit just one of their first 14 shots from the floor as the Herd pushed its lead behind the early shooting of West, who had 13 in the first half.
Marshall jumped out to an 18-7 lead in the first nine minutes, using its defense to propel an 11-0 run that forged the advantage.
Weathers started to find his rhythm as the Dukes battled back, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the first half.
However, Marshall ran several players at him in the second half and no other Duquesne player was able to step up as the Herd pulled away.
“He’s a pretty good player, man – hard to guard,” George said. “He was a horse. It was an experience guarding him.”
Weathers finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Dukes, who lost their second straight game after starting the season with 10 straight wins. Michael Hughes also had 15 in the loss.
Kinsey added 13 points and five assists for the Herd, who opens Conference USA action at 7 p.m. on Thursday against Rice at the Cam Henderson Center.