HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall missed early, often and from every distance, and that fed North Texas' racehorse fast break.
So did turnovers. And so did the few times the Thundering Herd made a shot.
Before the Herd knew it, it was down 27-9 after 11 minutes and the crowd announced at 4,586 was groaning, sometimes even booing. The rest of the game packed fleeting moments of suspense, but the Mean Green ran off with an 80-65 victory.
"We talked about transition defense all four days this week and, obviously, it didn't register," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "Because they just ran it right up our backs to start the game."
And it started from the opening tip, won by Marshall. TyQuane Goard missed the first shot and the Mean Green's Alzee Williams scored in a hurry. After a Kareem Canty airball, same thing.
It seemed the only way the Herd could stop the Mean Green was by squashing the man who beat the defense for a layup. And that's what Ryan Taylor did on Brandan Walton, drawing an intentional foul call. A four-point play later, the score was 8-2.
And when Tamron Manning made a 3-pointer to make it 13-6, the Mean Green went off and running again, with T.J. Taylor wide open for a layup.
"I guess we didn't think they'd get it out that fast on a made shot," the Herd's Ryan Taylor said. "But they did, and we weren't able to get back and set up our transition defense."
That Manning basket was only one of four in those horrendous 11 minutes. And here is the real killer: The Herd had a whopping 11 offensive rebounds in that stretch, more than it had five times in entire games.
Do the math; there couldn't have been many stickbacks on those offensive rebounds. There were two rebounds passed out for successful jumpers, but no quick putbacks.
So on this night, rebounding efforts were rendered meaningless. Even the Herd's relative success at the free-throw line - 20 of 29, 69 percent - was rendered meaningless.
That can happen when you shoot 2 of 12 in the first five minutes, 4 of 20 in the first 10 minutes and 9 of 38 (23.7 percent) in the first half. The Herd went 5 of 25 from 3-point range, something that isn't surprising, but this might be - MU missed 21 shots in or near the lane.
The result sent Marshall (6-12 overall) to 0-3 in Conference USA, and was its ninth loss in 11 games and ninth in 10 games against Division I opponents. Former Sun Belt member North Texas (10-7, 1-2) won its first-ever C-USA contest.
The Herd, which improved to 30.8 percent shooting by game's end, had big efforts from Canty and Ryan Taylor, who scored 26 and 22 points, respectively. But that posed another problem - the rest of the squad chipped in only 17 points.
That played into NT coach Tony Benford's defensive plans nicely, as he called for that Herd-thwarting zone after made shots, and man-to-man after misses. He said his defenders struggled against Taylor and Canty, but two men can only carry a struggling offense so far.
"They have some other guys who can make shots," Benford said. "But when you look at the stats, Canty is taking almost 100 shots more than anybody on the team. Taylor, those are two really good players. I felt like if we can keep Canty and Taylor in front of us, we may have a chance [to] make some other guys beat us."
Marshall managed to chip that 27-9 Mean Green lead to 39-27 at the half, but didn't clip the margin to single digits until the 4:02 mark, 67-59 on two Canty free throws.
A Canty layup made it 71-63 with 2:44 left, but Goard ended the glimmer of suspense 25 seconds later with a flagrant foul on Collin Voss. Voss hit one free throw and the Mean Green scored on the subsequent possession, on a Jordan Williams layup.
That's appropriate, because Voss and Williams did the most damage - Williams had 20 points and 10 rebounds, with Voss 16 and nine. With those layups and other inside shots, the Mean Green outscored the Herd 44-23 in the paint.
Again, that happens when you miss from close range. And long range, and everywhere in between.
"You look at that 31 percent, which is awful for us. Awful, awful," Herrion said. "How many stickbacks, layups, around-the-basket shots we don't convert. We get so few three-point plays. Again, a disappointing loss to say the least."
Ryan Taylor had 14 rebounds, giving him his fifth double-double.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter. com/dougsmock.
NORTH TEXAS 80, MARSHALL 65
North Texas (10-7, 1-2)
M FG FT R A P
A. Williams 23 3-5 4-4 1 2 10
Jones 28 4-9 1-4 3 8 9