The Marshall men’s basketball team used a second-half comeback Saturday at the Cam Henderson Center to take the Toledo Rockets to overtime, but the Herd ultimately surrendered a 75-74 loss.
“Mentally, we weren’t there,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “You can’t go down 19 points playing a team that’s 8-1 and think you’re going to come back and win.”
The loss dropped the Thundering Herd to 5-4 on the season, while Toledo elevated its record to 9-1.
D’Antoni’s team struggled offensively in the first half and the Herd went into the locker room down 41-23. 23 points is the least the Herd has scored in a half this season. Marshall shot 35.7 percent from the field in the first half and made only one first-half 3-pointer out of 11 attempts.
The lone 3-point basket came from sophomore forward Jannson Williams with just minutes left before halftime. Additionally in the first half, the Herd shot 10-for-28 from the field and 2-for-9 from the free-throw line.
Marshall’s first half shooting woes were summarized by a corner 3-point attempt from sophomore forward Mikel Beyers that hit the side of the backboard instead of the bottom of the net.
In the second half, Marshall established momentum with a pair of quick 3-pointers from senior guard Jon Elmore. With the basket, Marshall chopped away at Toledo’s 21-point lead—its largest of the contest.
After Elmore missed a 3-pointer in the first half and went 0-for-2 from the free-throw line, he hit four second-half 3-pointers and ended the game with 21 points as he helped pull his team back into the game.
Toledo went on to eventually lose its large lead with just under six minutes remaining in regulation, a feat the Rockets’ head coach Ted Kowalczyk said he attributed to Marshall’s notoriously loud fanbase.
“I play in a lot of places and I don’t know that I’ve seen a better fanbase,” Kowalczyk said. “What (Marshall has) going here is special. It’s a fun atmosphere, it’s a fun way to play and, unfortunately, our guys didn’t handle it well when (Marshall) got the fans going.”
Marshall senior guard Rondale Watson played an impactful role in his team’s comeback and finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds to record his first-career double-double. Though he had a career-night, Watson said he was more focused on the fact that his team lost.
“I’ve never been a stats guy,” Watson said. “I’m a winner guy. I like to win. When we win, we all look good. When we lose, nobody looks good. I just wanted to win and we came up short.”
After its disastrous first half, Marshall held a five-point lead with less than a minute left in the second half. Toledo managed to cut Marshall’s small lead with a heavily-contested 3-pointer from senior forward Nate Navigato. Marshall had the ball as time wound down and Elmore missed a 3-point attempt in which contact was made in the act of shooting. No foul was called. Had Elmore been fouled, he would have had to make one of his three free-throws to seemingly secure a Marshall victory. Instead, the game went to overtime.
In overtime, Marshall’s offense was somewhat stagnant, once again. Nevertheless, the Herd had a one-point lead with 12 seconds remaining. Toledo responded with a floater from sophomore guard Marreon Jackson that hit off the back of the rim and eventually found the net.
Jackson’s shot proved to be the game-winner and Marshall turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound pass as time expired to give the Rockets the 75-74 advantage.
D’Antoni said he attributed the loss primarily to his team’s slow start. He said he liked a lot of what he saw from his team but it didn’t play with intensity.
“I don’t know how to describe what it was,” D’Antoni said. “The intensity wasn’t there. We looked unsure of ourselves and we were doing things that I haven’t seen them do in practice.”
Marshall’s will attempt to rebound Monday when Herd plays host to Morehead State in Huntington. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Cam Henderson Center.
Derek Gilbert can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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