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Poor shooting dooms Herd in loss to ETSU

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - East Tennessee State talked about its decision to play zone defense against Marshall for all 40 minutes Saturday. Thundering Herd coach Tom Herrion had no doubt that was coming.

But his team didn't handle it well in the first 20 minutes, and combined with another round of mediocre foul shooting, the Herd lost 88-78 to the Bucs at their alternate home, Freedom Hall.

A crowd of 3,016 enjoyed watching its team take a 43-28 lead in the first 181/2 minutes and allow the Herd to cut it to two points, 70-68 with 5:41 left. Then the Bucs fired the kill shots, going 5 of 6 from the field and 7 of 8 from the line to close it out.

The Herd shot an even 50 percent from the floor in the second half, but that didn't make up for the 37.1 percent in the first half. It didn't make up for the 6-of-30 bricking from 3-point range, or the 18-of-35 egg laid at the free-throw line.

Those 30 3-pointers were nearly half the Herd's 63 total shots. Properly interpreted, that meant the Herd (4-3) struggled in the half-court game.

"I thought the offense led to much of our demise," Herrion said. "We shot the ball so quick in possessions, forced things against the zone. We knew they were going to zone us for 40 minutes, it's what they do for the most part. In balance, it led to bad transition defense at times in that stretch.

"In the second half, when we made that run, we were really much more patient against the zone. Did a good job executing. You can't let a team shoot 54 percent, then go 18 of 35 from the foul line. Another game where our free throws contributed mightily to our loss."

Elijah Pittman, who was not suspended by Conference USA after his "flagrant 2 foul" Tuesday against Western Kentucky, fired 12 of his 14 shots from 3-point range, hitting only two. Kareem Canty, the team's high scorer with 19 points, was a little better at 3 of 9, while the rest of the team went 1 of 9.

"The thing about him is [to allow] no clean 3s," ETSU's Hunter Harris said of Pittman. "He's, like, a one-, two-dribble guy who doesn't really like going to the basket. You know, him being that tall, it's kind of surprising - he's tall, he's got athleticism.

"But he really doesn't want to go to the basket, so just forcing him off the 3-point line and then the next guy being there to help stop him from shooting that one-dribble pull-up, two-dribble pull-up."

ETSU's Harris and Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard dominated at times, with Harris scoring 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting, with 13 rebounds. Gadsden-Gilliard was the high scorer with 19 points and added seven assists, and two other Bucs scored 13, Rashawn Rembert and Lester Wilson.

The Bucs (3-5) led 46-34 at the half, and then MU chipped away, cutting the margin to 64-60 with 9:23 left. ETSU was deep in foul trouble, with five players having four fouls. At that point, coach Murry Bartow gambled.

"We decided in a game like this, we're going to roll the dice," he said. "We put four guys in the game with four fouls. Usually a guy with four fouls you hold until the 4-minute mark, but at the 91/2-minute mark, we put four guys in.

"The game had gotten down to four, four or six, but we said, 'Hey, we've got a great chance to beat Marshall, a great chance to beat a Conference USA team, and we're going to roll the dice.' Two guys fouled out; in hindsight it was easy because we won, but it was a good move at the time, fortunately."

Marshall returns to the road Thursday to play Vanderbilt at 8 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. game next Saturday at Penn State.

  • BRIEFLY: There were two notable state connections in the game. First, Bob Bolen, architect of the NAIA championship machine at the now-defunct Mountain State University, joined Bartow's staff in June.
  • Second, the Bucs dedicated the game to a West Virginia grad, school president Brian Noland. He was injured in an accident in downtown Johnson City on Nov. 19, when a flatbed truck ran a red light and struck him. Local writers saw him in attendance Saturday, briefly.

    MARSHALL

            FG    FT    Reb    

        Min    M-A    M-A    O-T    A    F    P

    Sane    11    1-2    0-0    3-5    1    3    2

    Pittman    28    4-14    6-12    0-2    0    3    16

    Taylor    30    4-8    2-4    3-14    0    1    10

    Canty    32    6-15    4-7    3-4    6    4    19

    Thomas    25    6-14    4-6    1-6    1    4    17

    Smith    15    5-5    1-4    1-1    0    4    11

    Boykins    8    0-1    0-0    0-0    0    2    0

    Goard    21    1-1    1-2    2-3    0    3    3

    Manning    24    0-3    0-0    0-2    0    3    0

    Mbao    3    0-0    0-0    0-1    0    0    0

    Loop    3    0-0    0-0    0-0    0    0    0

    Totals    200    27-63    18-35      14-40    8    27    78

    Percentages: FG .429, FT .514. 3-point goals: 6-30, .200 (Canty 3-9, Pittman 2-12, Thomas 1-4, Boykins 0-1, Taylor 0-2, Manning 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 0. Turnovers: 14 (Thomas 4, Taylor 2, Goard 2, Canty 2, Pittman 2, Boykins, Manning). Steals: 2 (Manning, Canty). Technical fouls: Pittman.

    EAST TENNESSSEE

            FG    FT    Reb    

        Min    M-A    M-A    O-T    A    F    PTS

    H Harris    40    8-9    1-7    4-13    0    4    17

    Gads.-Gilliard    38    7-12    5-6    1-7    7    4    19

    McClain    25    2-5    3-4    0-0    5    4    7

    Rembert    37    3-8    4-4    0-3    2    1    13

    Merriweather    20    1-4    4-4    0-6    0    5    6

    Riley    6    1-2    0-1    0-1    0    1    3

    Banks    2    1-1    0-0    0-0    0    0    2

    Wilson    20    5-13    0-0    1-2    0    5    13

    Poderis    12    2-2    4-4    0-4    1    4    8

    Totals    200    30-56    21-30    6-37    15    28    88

    Percentages: FG .536, FT .700. 3-point goals: 7-23, .304 (Rembert 3-6, Wilson 3-10, Riley 1-2, Merriweather 0-1, Gadsden-Gilliard 0-2, McClain 0-2). Team rebounds: 1. Blocked shots: 3 (H. Harris 2, Rembert). Turnovers: 11 (Gadsden-Gilliard 3, McClain 2, H. Harris 2, Merriweather 2, Rembert, Wilson). Steals: 3 (McClain, Merriweather, H. Harris). Technical Fouls: None.

    Halftime - ETSU 46-34. Att. - 3,016.

    Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsmock@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.


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