HUNTINGTON - D.D. Scarver hit a big 3-pointer and DeAndre Kane converted a three-point play in the final minutes Wednesday as Marshall fended off plucky Rice 71-70 at Cam Henderson Center.
It took all game for the Thundering Herd (11-14, 4-6) to shake off the Owls (5-19, 1-9), who are lining the Conference USA basement. There were 21 lead changes and 11 ties, with neither team leading by more than five points.
It finally came down to Scarver's 3-pointer with 1:23 left and Kane's driving basket and three-point play, the latter of which gave the Herd a 70-65 lead with 34 seconds left. That was the largest lead MU enjoyed since 27-22 in the first half.
From there, Elijah Pittman hit a free throw, giving the Herd just enough cushion to survive a banked 3-pointer by Rice's Julian DeBose. But with 1.0 seconds left, Marshall got the ball inbounds and Scarver heaved it in the air, allowing the buzzer to sound.
Pittman led all scorers with 22 points, with Scarver scoring 17 and Nigel Spikes 10. Dennis Tinnon had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Kane dished out 10 assists.
Marshall shot 51.1 percent, but allowed Rice to shoot 48.2 percent, including 9 of 27 from 3-point land. The Herd pulled away on the boards for a 31-25 edge, and only committed 11 turnovers.
Tamir Jackson led five Owls in double figures with 16 points. Following him were Austin Remljak with 15, Max Guercy 12 and DeBose and Keith Washington with 10.
Jackson hit a layup in traffic to pull Rice to a 33-all tie at the half, his 11th and 12th points of the contest. Ramljak had 10 in the first half, including two early 3-pointers.
Scarver led Marshall with 11 points at the half, with Pittman adding 10. The Herd shot 47.8 percent from the floor to 44.4 percent for the Owls in the opening half.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@ wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.