HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Here's all you really need to know about Marshall's 119-77 pummeling of Rio Grande: Austin Loop dunked.
Scored nine other points, as well. The freshman walk-on scored his first 11 college points, three 3-pointers and a first-half throw-down. His baskets received the loudest cheers.
The 4,761 at Cam Henderson Center had plenty to cheer about from the opening tap as the Thundering Herd (2-0) flew out to a 38-10 lead. That was punctuated by Kareem Canty's alley-oop pass to Elijah Pittman for a flashy dunk and Chris Thomas' rapid-fire steal and dunk.
The final 29 minutes were for entertainment purposes only, though there was no point spread. Coach Tom Herrion didn't tally up his team's seven double-figure scorers, but instead focused on . . .
His players' focus.
"I was very pleased that this group was really locked in tonight," Herrion said. "I think that was evidenced by the first eight to 10 minutes. I thought we had good days of preparation and a pretty good shootaround.
"I come out early, about 5:45, 5:50 - this is pre-warmup - and our guys were kind of lathered. I could sense they were locked in a little bit. We would have played well against a lot of teams tonight."
The tale of the tape includes Pittman's 29 points, Canty's double-double of 18 points and 11 assists, 15 points by Ryan Taylor and Thomas and 11 by Shawn Smith, Tamron Manning and, yes, Loop.
The redshirt freshman walk-on from South Webster, Ohio, played seven minutes and hit three of his four 3-point tries.
"You see a kid like Loop, comes in as a non-scholarship player, but he's got a skill," Herrion said.
This was an exhibition for Rio Grande, and the RedStorm got off to a disastrous start. Fifty-five seconds into the game, D.D. Joiner collided with MU's Cheikh Sane going for a loose ball and was in agony for the next several minutes. He put no weight on his foot.
Coach Ken French thinks - and hopes - it's a "turf toe" injury.
"He's our best player, and I think that kind of derailed us for a little bit," French said. "He is a guy who is a Division I player, and not having him really hurt us, and kind of knocked us back a bit."
Jermaine Warmack led Rio with 17 points, followed by Evan Legg with 14, Travis Elliott with 12 and Ricky Tisdale 11. The RedStorm shot 39.7 percent to Marshall's 62.5 percent, hit 10 of 35 from 3-point range and was outscored on the fast break 32-11.
But French and his players enjoyed the opportunity to play in a large building before a sizable crowd.
"Give Marshall credit. I tell you what: They were ready to play," French said. "If their chemistry holds together, they're going to be good. They're going to be good in Conference USA, and they're going to make a run."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
Marshall 119, Rio Grande 77
Rio Grande (2-1)
M FG FT R A P
Warmack 25 5-13 3-4 1 6 17
Young 19 2-5 1-2 3 2 6
Joiner 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Elliott 33 3-7 5-7 3 2 12
Harris 16 1-4 0-2 4 0 2