HUNTINGTON — “That was a terrific win for our club on senior night for Nigel (Spikes), Dennis (Tinnon) and Rob (Goff). I thought it was a tremendous ball game, a great college basketball game.”
Coach Tom Herrion opened his final press conference of the season in the Cam Henderson Center like his three seniors — Nigel Spikes, Dennis Tinnon and Robert Goff — played their final game, having fun and getting a big win to top off a season of uneven play by the Thundering Herd men’s basketball team.
Marshall shot a season-best from the floor and hit big threes throughout the game, then nailed 8-of-9 at the line down the stretch to beat the second place team in Conference USA, Southern Miss, 88-84 on Tuesday in the Cam Henderson Center.
This was the same Southern Miss (22-8, 11-4 in Conference USA) who beat the Herd in Hattiesburg, Miss. by 56 points, 102-46, back on Jan. 23, tying the worst loss in modern (post World War II) Marshall history, back in 1976 at DePaul when the Herd also lost by 56.
Marshall’s seniors combined for 20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and a steal as the Thundering Herd (13-17, 6-9 C-USA) may have well burst the bubble Southern Miss was thought to be sitting on for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament if they don’t win the C-USA Tournament next week in Tulsa.
“Our great and loyal fans that came tonight witnessed a terrific ballgame,” Herrion said.
“Two really good clubs. Southern Miss is really good as you can see. We have a lot of respect for their program.
“We played at a really good level tonight. We competed at a high level.”
After being blown out at Houston, 103-76, on Saturday, and a lackluster loss to UAB in its last home game six days ago, the Thundering Herd came out and played its best game of the year to pick up what, up to now, is the marquee win of the year for this team.
“I thought offensively we were as good as we’ve been all year,” Herrion said.
“We were patient on offense against their zone attack. We handled the press for the most part.
“We got contributions from a lot of different guys and you have to against a good club like that. We mixed our defenses really well.”
Elijah Pittman (24) guards Jerrold Brooks (23) in the Herd's zone, and also led the team with 22 points in the upset win of No. 2 seeded Southern Miss, 88-84, at the Cam Henderson Center Tuesday night. (Herd Insider photo by Brad Helton)
Marshall also received a 22 point performance from junior forward Elijah Pittman, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range.
Fellow junior and guard D.D. Scarver scored 19 points and was deadly from three as well, going 3-of-7, part of Marshall’s 10-of-20 effort from beyond-the-arc.
D.D. Scarver bounced back from an 0-for-7 night at Houston on Saturday with a 5-of-12 shooting evening, including 3-of-7 from three, to score 19 points in the Herd's win over Southern Miss. (Herd Insider photo by Brad Helton)
Goff, Spikes and Tinnon, who were honored before the game in their final home game at Marshall, each produced in different ways.
Robert Goff gets a kiss from his mother, Marlene McCormick, as he is introduced before the game. His father, Michael Goff, is to the right and one of his two brothers is in the foreground. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Goff scored eight points, all in the first four minutes of the game, and brought down five rebounds to go with an assist and a blocked shot.
“It gave us a great jolt and set the tone. It raised our confidence level,” Herrion said of Goff’s quick start.
“We knew there was a soft spot against the zone. He took really good shots, especially on that short baseline.
“That was an area we thought we could attack early and we did a good job getting there. He did a good job shooting the ball with great confidence.
Goff made 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line against his 33 percent free throw percentage, and his free throws were part of an early 12-0 run against Southern Miss.
Dennis Tinnon is holding Dennis, Jr. as he is introduced to the crowd on Senior Night. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Tinnon had five points and five rebounds, hitting 2-of-3 from the field, and has two assists and a steal.
Nigel Spikes is escorted by his sister, Courtney Saunders, as the only four-year senior on the Herd is honored on Senior Night before the win over Southern Miss. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Spikes scored seven points, had five rebounds and three blocks, hitting 2-of-2 from the field and 3-of-4 at the line for the 50 percent free throw shooter.
He also hit two free throws to break a 79-79 tie to give Marshall an 81-79 lead with 30 seconds remaining, a lead that it would not relinquish, part of the 8-of-9 at the line to put away the win.
“We made big free throws, made them when they counted, and then it was contagious,” Herrion said.
“We made them from the start tonight. Every guy stepped up and looked like they were confident.”
Marshall got contributions from every player in the game.
Freshman Tamron Manning, playing defense on Neil Watson of USM, hears from his head coach Tom Herrion during the game. Manning had career-bests for minutes, points, field goals and threes in scoring 12 points with four assists and no turnovers in win over Southern Miss. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
True-freshman Tamron Manning logged a season- and career-best 18 minutes, with 12 points on 3-of-4 field goals and 2-of-3 from three, all best of the year.
He also had four assists and no turnovers against the tough Southern Miss defense.
“He (Manning) grew up a lot tonight. He’s really grown as a young freshman,” Herrion said.
“It takes so much pressure off of us because it allows us to get Kane off the ball. We can use him as more of a passer against zone.”
Sophomore forward Jamir Hanner played in his first game since Feb. 16 against Memphis, and hit a three, scoring four points in six minutes.
Junior center Yous Mbao had two points, a rebound and a blocked shot in 14 minutes, and he and Hanner played with early foul trouble for the three senior big men.
Mbao scored his first points since Marshall played the District of Columbia at Hofstra on Nov. 16, part of the 2K Sports Classic Tournament, benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project, playing in only his 11th game of the year — battling post-concussion symptoms this season, forcing him to wear sunglasses to play in.
Fourth-year junior DeAndre Kane will graduate in May, but is expected back for the Herd for his last year of eligibility. Kane had nine points, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal in the win over Southern Miss. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
“It’s big,” Herrion said of winning for the seniors, and winning at home.
“We are used to winning in this building. We had some inconsistencies, but we expect to win every time we step on this floor.
“I knew it Sunday afternoon when we practiced up in Gullickson Hall. I knew our kids would respond. We had great focus.”
As Herd gets ready to take the floor, Robert Goff (face in shirt) is overcome with emotion, sitting with DeAndre Kane (left) and Elijah Pittman and Nigel Spikes (right and far right). Goff scored all eight points in the first four minutes to give the Herd the lead on the way to an upset win over the Golden Eagles. (Herd Insider photo by Brad Helton)
Marshall jumped out to a 16-8 lead at the 12:51 mark in the first half.
Southern Miss (22-8, 11-4 C-USA) then went on an 18-5 run to take a 26-21 lead with 7:19 to play.
Then it was Marshall’s time to make a run, 14-1 over the next two minutes with 10 of those points from Tamron Manning, and led 35-27 with 4:31 remaining in the first half.
Dre Kane drives for two of his nine points against Southern Miss in Marshall's win. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Marshall regained an eight-point advantage when DeAndre Kane, who finished with nine points, executed on a fast break layup to go up 46-38, which the Herd took into halftime.
Marshall led most of the second half until a three-pointer from Neil Watson gave Southern Miss a 73-71 lead with 4:30 to play.
Elijah Pittman hit 7-of-12 shots, including this dunk, for a team-high 22 points in the win over Southern Miss. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
The game was tied 76-76, one of six ties in the half, with two minutes to play when Pittman hit a three-pointer in the corner for a 79-76 lead.
Southern Miss’ Dwayne Davis then drained a three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to tie the game 79-79.
After Spikes’ two free throws gave Marshall the lead, Jerrold Brooks made one of two free throws for the Golden Eagles to cut the Herd lead to one point, 81-80 with 16 seconds to play.
The Marshall Maniacs and other MU students make life hard for Southern Miss at the free throw line, and the Golden Eagles shots a poor 56.7 percent from the line in the loss to the Herd. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Southern Miss then played the foul game to get the ball back, but Marshall made 7-of-8 attempts from the free throw line in the final 12 seconds, 8-of-9 in the final 30 seconds.
During that time, Davis went to the line twice — once when Kane fouled him with 12 seconds left, as ordered by Herrion, then again when Pittman fouled hit with seven ticks left — “a bad foul by Pittman” his coach said.
Davis only made 2-of-4 down the stretch, helping the Herd to hold on to the win.
The Herd made 24-of-31 attempts from the free throw line for 77.4 percent, its second-best performance of the season.
Dennis Tinnon goes for the slam on Senior Night, posting up Jonathan Mills of Southern Miss. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
The Golden Eagles shot 56.7 percent from the line (17-of-30), for a team averaging 70 percent this season from the stripe.
Marshall shot a season-best 55.1 percent from the floor (27-of-49) and hit 50 percent from three.
Every bit of scoring was needed as Davis scored 35 for Southern Miss on 13-of-20 shooting, although he only hit 4-of-6 at the line, missing those critical foul shots late, and led his team with six turnovers.
It was the most points for a Herd opponent since Darrius Morrow scored 33 for East Carolina on Jan. 22, 2011.
Nigel Spikes soars over Southern Miss' Norville Carey for a slam on the way to seven points, five rebounds and three blocks for Senior Night, an 88-84 win for the Herd. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
“Dwayne Davis played at a phenomenal level tonight,” Herrion said of the one-year player from Southern Miss, who sat his junior year with academics after attending two junior colleges.
“He has tremendous talent. They have a good ball club. I’m proud of our kids for bouncing back and responding.”
The Eagles were nearly as good shooting as the Herd, hitting 51.9 percent from the field (28-of-54) and 47.8 percent from three (11-of-23).
Johnathan Mills scored 13 points for Southern Miss (with eight rebounds) but was only 5-of-9 from the free throw line, as the Marshall Maniacs try to help him out. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
Forward Jonathan Mills scored 13 points and led USM with eight rebounds, sharing time under the glass with Daveon Boardingham, who had nine points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jerrold Brooks had 12 points, hitting 3-of-9 from three but just 4-of-13 overall, and Watson had eight points and eight assists at the point.
Southern Miss will look to pick up its 23rd win of the year at home Saturday, in the final game of the year against UCF (19-10, 8-6) — who is ineligible for the C-USA and NCAA/NIT tournaments due to probation on recruiting and will finish its year at USM’s Reed Green Fieldhouse.
Marshall wraps up the regular season on Saturday at 5 p.m. at East Carolina (16-11, 7-7 C-USA), who hosts Tulane on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Herd beat the Pirates 77-56 back on Jan. 19 in the Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall finishes the year averaging 5,587 in 16 games at the Henderson Center, drawing 5,364 on this final night.
Robert Goff in sandwich of Southern Miss forwards Rashard McGill (12) and Daveon Broadingham but still managed to pull five rebounds. (HI photo by Brad Helton)
“I thought the crowd was very good. The loyal fan base that showed up tonight was outstanding and they got treated to a great ballgame,” Herrion said of the Marshall fans.
“That’s a really good team we beat. They had a great season so far. Our fans are tremendous though.
“We’ve struggled and been inconsistent, and some people maybe chose not to come, but the ones that came tonight really helped us down the stretch.
“We really appreciate our great fan base.”
Marshall also recognized senior team manager Neal Scaggs, and two senior Marshall cheerleaders — Nicolette DeMicco and Katie Cornwell — were also honored in the pre-game.
Scaggs is from Logan, W.Va.; Goff is from Indianapolis, Ind.; Spikes is from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; and Tinnon is from Green Bay, Wisc.