Written by Justin Prince.
The Thundering Herd men’s basketball team wasn’t about to let the football team out do them on Saturday night.
Just hours after Doc Holliday and his football team claimed a victory over Colorado State 31-28 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, his cohort Dan D’antoni and the basketball team knocked off the Ohio Bobcats 99-96 in overtime.
The Herd led by nine at the break but the Bobcats came out of the locker room hot, especially from the three-point line as Jordan Dartis went 5-7 from deep in the second half.
Marshall went down by as many as eight in the second half trailing 63-68 with just over 11 minutes to play. But, the Herd was able to battle back and take a 90-88 lead with just under two minutes to go. Both teams traded missed baskets before the Ohio defense forced Marshall into a shot clock violation with 7.5 seconds left.
The Bobcats’ Teyvion Kirck drove to the basket and botched what should have been an easy lay-up but his teammate Kevin Mickle was able to get the offensive rebound and put back to tie the game at the buzzer.
In overtime the Bobcats took a lead 92-90 on a pair of Kirk free throws but from there the Herd would control the game. Milan Mijovic got a lay up off of a Jon Elmore assist to tie the game again at 92-all and after an Ajdin Penava block and rebound on the defensive end. The block was Penava’s ninth of the game.
“It’s just a feeling,” Penava told WMUL’s Adam Rogers following the game about his ability to block shots. “I can’t say there is any secret to it, it’s just a reaction. But, it’s also my teammates playing good defense too. Staying in front of their guys and allowing me to come from the help side and do my job and alter shots.”
Following the Penava block, junior CJ Burks drew a foul to go to the line with 2:55 to play and sank both foul shots to put Marshall up by two and the Herd never relinquished the lead again. Ohio wouldn’t go away, however, and the Bobcats would cut the lead to one, 97-96, with 17 seconds to play.
Elmore would go to the line and finish off a perfect night from the charity strip that saw him go 11-11, but none more important than the last two that gave the Herd a three point lead and set the final score, 99-96.
In the game Elmore finished with his first career triple-double scoring 20 points while dishing out 10 assists and pulling down 10 rebounds. Penava added career highs in points and rebounds finishing with 34 and 15 to go along with his nine blocks, narrowly missing his own triple-double.
“I thought we did a tremendous job tonight,” D’antoni said. “Especially on the defensive end. This is a team that can score, they shoot a lot of threes and they make a lot of threes. We held them to 33 percent tonight from behind the arc so that’s not a bad job. And Penava was incredible, they’ve got him for nine blocks but I think he had probably actually had 10 or 11.”
Burks also had a career high for the Herd scoring 31 points to round out the Herd’s double-digit scores. The Bobcats were led by Dartis who dropped in 27 including seven three pointers.
Marshall’s next game will be against the top 10 ranked Xavier Musketeers on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. from Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Musketeers are coming off a 68-66 come from behind win over East Tennessee State..
“Xavier is going to be a challenge,” Penava said. “But, it’s also going to be a chance for us to prove ourselves and see how we stack up with the top teams in the country. We’ve improved since the beginning of the year, but win or lose it will be a great measurement for us and an opportunity to grow and get better. But, tonight I’m going to enjoy this win.”