AKRON, Ohio - Kareem Canty's tantalizingly missed layup with about 5 seconds left allowed Akron to escape with a 59-58 win Thursday night, extending Marshall's misery on the road.
The Thundering Herd (5-9) has lost seven of its last eight games, with all seven away from Huntington. The Herd has lost its last 10 away/neutral games dating back to February 2013. At James A. Rhodes Arena, the Herd lost despite solid defense and the Zips' attempts to give the game away.
But once again the Herd fell behind by double digits (45-34, 12:06 left), as it has in eight games. Once again, the Herd was lacking at the free-throw line (10 of 20) and was pummeled on the boards (42-29 overall, 20-6 offensive).
With those numbers, it didn't matter that Akron shot just 35.6 percent from the floor.
"You can't give up 20 offensive rebounds," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "Our first-shot defense was phenomenal, maybe the best half-court defense we've played. Unfortunately, part of defense is rebounding the basketball and we did such a poor job, especially in that first half, of blocking out, putting bodies on people."
Thirteen first-half turnovers didn't help, either, as the Herd's early 11-3 lead vanished. When Carmelo Bettencourt hit two free throws to give Akron a 21-19 lead, the Zips led for the final 27 minutes, 42 seconds.
But that didn't mean the Zips' lead was solid throughout - in the final two minutes it became very brittle.
Akron (8-5) held a seven-point lead as late as the 2:27 mark, leading 59-52 on a Quincy Diggs 3-pointer. Chris Thomas immediately answered with a dunk, beating the Zips' defense down the floor.
The 59-54 score held through three turnovers, two by Zips star Demetrius Treadwell. Finally, Ryan Taylor hit a layup with 1:04 left, and Thomas dunked after his own steal to cut the margin to 59-58 with 49 seconds left.
Marshall forced Akron to use two timeouts and still managed nothing more than an airball at the shot-clock buzzer. The 35-second violation gave the Herd possession with 14.7 seconds left.
With the clock well inside 10 seconds, Canty drove to the rim for the go-ahead layup, but the ball danced around the rim and fell off. Bettencourt saved the rebound to Diggs, who was fouled.
Akron wasn't exactly sharp at the line, 14 of 26, and Diggs clanked both. Akron had a foul to give, but almost messed that up after MU's timeout with 2.6 seconds left.
Canty got around a defender and flung a half-court shot that hit the rim at the buzzer. The Zips were lobbying for a foul on Canty's dribble, but Herrion wanted a foul called on Canty's shot.
With no call either way, the Herd was sent packing for a long, snow-filled trip home.
"We fought back, battled, did a really good job stretching the game out, managing the game with timeouts," Herrion said. "The situational stuff was really, really good, nonetheless we still fall short."
Taylor led all scorers with 16 points, while Canty, Thomas and TyQuane Goard scored 10 apiece for the Herd. Isaiah Johnson was Akron's only double-digit scorer with 12 points, doing so in just 16 minutes off the bench. Treadwell, the Zips' leading scorer and rebounder, fell into first-half foul trouble and scored only four points.
Marshall finishes its nonconference schedule with a 2 p.m. game Sunday against Presbyterian.
AKRON 59, MARSHALL 58
Min FG FT R A P
Canty 40 4-14 1-1 2 5 10
Thomas 28 3-8 3-6 3 0 10
Boykins 23 0-2 0-2 0 0 0
Goard 27 5-6 0-0 4 0 10