Written by Justin Prince.
The Marshall men’s basketball team tipped off Conference USA play Thursday night against Southern Mississippi without the services of two of its top seven players in terms of minutes.
Freshman Darius George missed his second straight game with a fractured foot, but the Herd was also without its second leading scorer C.J. Burks who averages 19.9 points per game.
But, in the end that didn’t matter as Marshall improved to 9-0 at home on the season by downing the Golden Eagles 85-66. The Herd was led by a career high 20 points from Rondale Watson, a Wake Forest transfer playing in just his third game of the season after gaining eligibility.
Southern Miss was led by Tyree Griffin who had 19 points and six assists in a losing effort. The game was sloppy, but competitive early on with Marshall holding just a four-point lead with 10 minutes left in the first half. The Herd, however, would use a strong final 10 minutes of the half to open up a 10-point lead, 35-25 at the break.
The lead continued to balloon in the second half and the Herd led by as many as 24 before Coach D’Antoni started to empty the bench and the Golden Eagles chipped the lead back to 19 in the final minutes.
Jon Elmore, the team’s leading scorer, had a rough night shooting the basketball, but still nearly finished with a triple double scoring 13 points while dishing out 11 assists and grabbing eight rebounds. Ajdin Penava continued his strong play with a double-double of his own scoring 18 points and 15 rebounds while freshman Jarrod West broke out of a shooting slump hitting four 3-pointers all in the first half. West finished with 15.
The Herd improved to 10-4 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. Marshall will next host Louisiana Tech on Saturday, December 30 inside the Cam Henderson Center.