ORLANDO, Fla. - It was as if Marshall players took their season-long road frustrations and stuck them in one of Mickey Mouse's oversized ears.
The Thundering Herd, which had lost all nine of its "true" road games this year and was on the verge of historic futility, blew through Central Florida for most of the game Wednesday night at UCF arena. MU led by 22 in the second half before settling for an 82-70 victory.
Marshall (12-15, 5-7 Conference USA) had lost 12 straight on the road dating back to a win at Southern Methodist a full 367 days earlier.
"I'm really proud of our kids," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "They've been tremendous through our inconsistent struggles this season and they deserved that win. We played with great energy and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys, and we played well on both ends of the floor."
Elijah Pittman led four Herd players in double figures with 20 points, with DeAndre Kane scoring 19 and dishing out seven assists. Dennis Tinnon came off the bench for just the fourth time this season but still racked up a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds. D.D. Scarver added 16 points.
As a team, Marshall went a season-high 54.2 percent from the floor to 43.1 percent for UCF. The Herd hit 6 of 16 from 3-point range and converted 12 of 18, 66.7 percent, from the line. Turnovers (21) were a problem again, but the Herd outrebounded the Knights 42-32.
Isaiah Sykes had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead UCF (17-9, 7-5) and Calvin Newell scored 16, but Keith Clanton was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Clanton had 24 points and nine rebounds in Marshall's 75-71 win in Huntington.
"He's a good player and all," said Herd center Nigel Spikes. "[But] I told him he wasn't going to be scoring like that.
The win was much easier than anybody could have expected, giving MU's road problems. UCF's only lead was at 10-8, but that was erased by Scarver's 3-point goal that triggered an 11-2 run. The Herd took a 48-34 lead at the half and led by as many as 22, 71-49, on a Tamron Manning 3-pointer with 9:17 left.
Scoring the next 10 points, UCF cut the lead all the way to 73-65 with 4:23 left, riling up the 4,739 in attendance. Kane answered with a pair of free throws, Spikes hit one and Pittman dunked off Kane's fast-break lob, pushing the lead out to 78-66.
The result lifted the Herd to eighth place in the C-USA standings. That's not unimportant - with UCF ineligible for postseason play, the league tournament has only 11 teams and therefore five first-round byes. Marshall is a game behind East Carolina and Tulsa for the last bye.
The Herd also won the final game of its eight-year rivalry with UCF, taking the all-time series 10-6. MU also finished 4-2 against former coach Donnlie Jones, who will take his Knights into the Big East after this season.
Marshall returns home to take on Alabama-Birmingham at 7 p.m. Saturday, then will have a week before it begins the final three games of the regular season.
Marshall 82, UCF 70
MARSHALL (12-15, 5-7 C-USA)
M FG FT R A P
Robert Goff 22 2-5 0-0 4 0 4
Elijah Pittman 33 7-11 3-4 5 5 20
Nigel Spikes 25 2-5 1-2 5 0 5
D.D. Scarver 32 7-15 0-0 3 2 16
DeAndre Kane 36 7-10 5-6 5 7 19
DeVince Boykins 7 0-1 0-0 2 1 0