CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Cincinnati trapped, thumped, pressed and bullied Marshall from the opening tip in their Saturday matinee at the Civic Center, but the Bearcats couldn't shake off the short-handed Thundering Herd until their shots fell.
When those shots fell, so did the Herd, to the tune of 72-56.
The 11th-ranked Bearcats forced Marshall into 20 turnovers, 11 on its first 20 possessions. They also outrebounded Marshall 40-31, reversing the Herd's domination in the upset last year in Cincinnati.
Those two factors led to the Bearcats' 64-43 advantage in field goals attempted, which usually foretells an easy victory.
But that wasn't the case until Cashmere Wright hit three cold-blooded 3-point goals in a row in the second half, followed later by an eight-point mini-eruption by Sean Kilpatrick. When Kilpatrick's second 3-pointer dropped through the net, the Bearcats were up 68-54 with 5:04 left.
By then, the frazzled Herd still had five missed shots and two turnovers to endure, and many of the 5,432 on hand began their trip home.
The Bearcats (10-0) shot 61.5 percent in the second half, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range - in other words, the shots by Wright and Kilpatrick. That followed a tough first half, in which UC shot 34.2 percent and hit just one 3-pointer in 11 tries.
"The 3-ball broke our back, stretched the game open," said MU coach Tom Herrion.
Those 17 points were most of the 27 combined points from Wright (14) and Kilpatrick (13). They were not consecutively scored, and spread across a span of eight-plus minutes.
But they not only turned a single-digit lead into double digits, they squashed several chances for Marshall (6-5) to get back in the game. The breakdown:
Wright was done scoring his team-high 14 points at that point, but Kilpatrick had to catch up from a two-point first half. His eight-point outburst put the Herd away.
Scarver had Herd fans believing again with a four-point outburst, one on a free throw and a 3 on a long shot off the offensive rebound. When Wright was whistled for carrying the ball, the Herd had a chance to clip a 56-48 deficit.
But Scarver missed an off-balance 3-pointer and Kilpatrick didn't miss his attempt eight seconds later. That started a 7-0 UC run, and Kilpatrick's layup off a Manning turnover finished it.
Pittman answered with five of his 20 points to cut the UC lead to 63-53, but that was the Herd's last hurrah. Justin Jackson scored inside, MU's Dennis Tinnon missed the second of two free throws and Kilpatrick killed the Herd once and for all with his second 3-pointer.
"We were shooting 9 percent [from 3-point] range before that," UC coach Mick Cronin said of the barrage. "You end up going 6 for 17 from the 3-point line; you go 1 or 2 for 17, the game's going to the buzzer."
"They showed in stretches why they're a top-10 team in the country," Herrion said. "I thought defensively, in the second half, we wilted a little bit. They scored it too easy. They broke the game open with the 3-ball, there was no doubt about that.
"We were inept offensively. We could not get into any rhythm or flow offensively; 20 turnovers is going to cause a problem any night. Our assists-to-turnovers (nine to 20) reversed today what it has been often this season."
Cincinnati's pressure-packed trap defense took full advantage of the absence of MU's DeAndre Kane, and the Bearcats scored 20 points off those 20 turnovers. Chris Martin started at point guard in Kane's place, but committed four turnovers in 12 minutes.
Instead, Manning ended up playing 30 minutes. He looked more confident with the ball, but the freshman had no assists and four turnovers against UC's veteran backcourt.
The Herd's problems spread all the way around. For example, center Nigel Spikes was 0 for 6 from the floor and Tinnon was 0 for 3. Neither figure is good, obviously, but Tinnon getting just three shots was very telling.
"Their pressure didn't allow us to get into very much offense," Herrion said. "Let's not look at a stat sheet and say, 'He needs more shots.' Their pressure didn't allow us to get into any offensive flow, rhythm, and [forced] poor execution. That contributed mightily to it."
But there's one more factor in Tinnon's near-disappearance from the scoresheet: All seven of his rebounds came on defense. He was much more of a factor in the Herd's 73-69 overtime win over the Bearcats last year, a game in which Marshall outrebounded UC 43-30.
That was just about reversed Saturday, with the Bearcats owning a 17-11 advantage on the offensive side.
"It's hard for me to watch the tape from last year," Cronin said. "First time in the history of my career, 17 years in college, I couldn't even get through it. I tried to watch it but I couldn't. I had to turn it off."
Now, the Herd will try to turn its offense back on as it returns to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cam Henderson Center. The opposition that night is Savannah State, a far cry from UC and a far cry from the Herd's following foe - Kentucky, 4 p.m. next Saturday in Lexington.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
Cincinnati 72, Marshall 56