Tulane holds off Herd 66-64
TULSA, Okla. -- It's no surprise that Marshall's season ended in a rain of 3-point goals by the opposition, for the Thundering Herd had struggled in defending those all season.
But what was surprising was the shot that ultimately killed the Herd's 13-19 season once and for all -- Ricky Tarrant's bank shot from the top of the key, fired with the shot clock nearing zero. That gave the Green Wave a 66-63 lead with 6.9 seconds left.
Marshall got the benefit of a belatedly enforced technical foul and got one shot at the buzzer, but Elijah Pittman's off-balance shot from the corner bounced away at the buzzer.
"It was a frustrating end to our season, dagger through our heart at the end," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "Three-ball ended up beating us in the second half, didn't guard it well enough in the second half. Did a great job in the first half, didn't do a great job [after that] and they bank one in to win it."
Indeed, the Herd played great defense in the first half, probably the best all season. It held the Green Wave to 26.7 percent and just 1 of 12 from 3-point range, taking a 29-20 lead in the process.
That was a stunning reversal of the first half of Tulane's 91-75 win in New Orleans, in which the Green Wave took a 59-35 first-half lead. The Herd also scored eight points off 11 Tulane turnovers and shot 52.2 percent offensively.
And the good fortune continued in the second half. When D.D. Scarver found Dennis Tinnon for a bucket that made it 40-27, the Herd seemed to have a big enough lead to weather the next Tulane run.
But then the 3-pointers flew.
Ben Cherry drew first blood and then Jordan Callahan, left open for the first time all night, fired in his only long shot. Tarrant hit a really long 3, hit two free throws and tied it at 47 with another bomb and gave the Green Wave a 50-49 lead with yet another. With 6:39 left, the Herd had to abandon what was a successful zone defense strategy.
Herrion said his team wasn't surprised by Tulane trying 3-pointers, but were surprised by the distance of those shots.
"They shot '5s' instead of 3s," Herrion said. "They shot '5s.' And give them credit -- they made big shots."
The lead changed nine times the rest of the way, with D.D. Scarver hitting his only 3-pointer and DeAndre Kane scoring seven of his game-high 22 points along the way. The last Herd lead was 63-61 with 1:19 left, on two Pittman free throws.
Kendall Timmons tied the game at 63 with 1:02 left, getting inside for a short shot off the glass. Kane worked the ball into the top of the lane and fired a pretty open jumper, but that missed. He was elbowed in the head on the rebound, but play continued.
Tulane ran the ball to the other end before coach Ed Conroy ordered his troops to slow things down. With 7 seconds' difference between the shot clock and the game clock, they almost slowed it down too much, forcing Tarrant to heave a shot from 22 feet or so.
It hit the glass hard and went in, the seventh Tulane 3-pointer of the half and Tarrant's 19th, 20th and 21st points.
"It felt good," he said. "It sailed straight to the backboard and then in. I was looking at the shot clock after Jordan passed me the ball and knew I had to get a shot off so I just threw it up."
Marshall had 6.9 seconds left, but had a chance for two free points. During the Herd's timeout, officials reviewed Davis' elbow of Kane and assessed a flagrant foul, giving Kane two foul shots before the Herd inbounded. Kane hit the second to cut the lead to 66-64.
(Had that flagrant foul been called at the time it was committed, Tarrant's particular shot would not have been possible. MU would have gotten two free throws and possession.)
On the final play, Kane weaved around one defender and went straight to the rim, dishing out to Pittman in the left corner. Pittman had to fake out his defender at the arc but didn't have time to set his feet for his final attempt, which still banked off the glass and across the rim at the buzzer.
"I had an option to get the layup, but [a defender] caught me off a little bit on my way to the basket," Kane said. "I saw Elijah open and he's a great shooter, he's been knocking down shots all year, so I got him the ball. He got a good look at it, it just didn't sink."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@ wvgazette.com or at twitter.com/dougsmock.