Written by Justin Prince.
Marshall led the game for more than 38 minutes and lead most of it by double digits in a 91-71 win in its final non-conference basketball game of the season against Eastern Kentucky.
In a game like that, there are plenty of things to talk about. We could talk about Ajdin Penava’s near quadruple-double. The European big man finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, nine blocks and seven assists. We could also talk about guards Jon Elmore (aka “Jonny Buckets) and C.J. Burks combining for 51 points on 19-29 shooting from the field or we could talk about Rondale Watson’s 12 points and four rebounds off the bench in his Cam Henderson Center debut.
They would all be compelling conversations, but that’s not the story as the Thundering Herd avenged last season’s 89-80 loss to the Colonels. No, the narrative of this game was the energy that Marshall brought to the court from the opening tip-off.
It was freshman Jarrod West diving for loose balls, it was Milan Mijovic fighting for tough rebounds, it was Jannson Williams throwing down put back dunks and it was Watson skying for alley-oops that seemed out of reach. All of those plays energized the Herd and Marshall used that vitality to fuel its blowout victory Friday night.
It was the seventh time that Coach Dan D’antoni’s team scored more than 90 points in a game this season and Marshall moved to 8-0 on the season at home and 9-4 overall as it prepares for conference play.
The Thundering Herd will get nearly a week off before taking on Southern Miss on Thursday December 28 at 7:00 p.m. inside the Henderson Center.
Other Things of Note:
Jon Elmore’s team high 26 points tonight give him 1,380 in his career at Marshall good for 20th place on the school’s all time scoring list. Elmore slid in front of Herd athletics and NBA Hall of Famer Hal Greer who finished his college career with 1,377.
Ajdin Penava has been one block away from a triple-double in his last two home games. Back on December 16 in an overtime win over the Ohio Bobcats, the 6-9 forward had 33 points, 15 boards and nine swatted shots. Only one player in Marshall history has ever recorded a triple-double that included blocked shots and that was current Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside who did it three times in his lone season in Huntington. I look for Penava to join him in that category before season’s end.
C.J. Burks’ 25 points were his third-highest single game total of the season. So far this year, Burks has scored 20 or more points six different times.
Milan Mijovic’s eight points were a career high for the senior center who missed almost a month of the season with a broken wrist and freshman Jannson Williams’ seven points were the most he’s scored against a Division I opponent in his short career. Williams did, however, score 10 in a 106-70 win over Division II Concord earlier this season.
Lastly, Jarrod West scored zero points for the first time in his career. The freshman played incredible defense for the Herd and finished the game with three steals but was 0-4 from the floor.