HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Junior guard Jon Elmore (Charleston, W.Va.) led all scorers with 25 points and Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis) added 17 to lead the Marshall men’s basketball team to a 74-59 win over the UAB Blazers Thursday night at the Cam Henderson Center.
With the win, Marshall rose to 15-11 overall (8-5 C-USA) while UAB fell to 15-12 overall (8-6 C-USA). The win snapped an eight-game losing streak the Blazers had over the Herd, while the 59 points were the lowest a Marshall opponent has scored this season.
Elmore had five assists and three rebounds to go along with his 25 points. Taylor added seven rebounds and three assists to his 17 points. Ajdin Penava (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) recorded his first career double-double, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds. UAB’s Denzell Watts had a team-high 23 points.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the early stages of the first half, with neither team having more than a two-point lead until an 8-0 Herd run gave Marshall an 18-11 lead. Penava and C.J. Burks (Martinsburg, W.Va.) combined to score all eight points during the run.
The Herd’s largest lead of the half came on a jumper by Terrence Thompson (Durham, N.C.) at the midway point of the half, giving Marshall a 24-16 lead over the Blazers. A Thompson layup pushed Marshall’s lead back out to seven points, 28-21, with 8:08 left in the half. UAB went on a 9-0 run that spanned more than three minutes to retake the lead, 30-28. A 6-0 Herd run put Marshall back on top, 34-30. UAB closed out the half with four straight points to send the teams to the break tied at 34.
UAB connected on a pair of shots in the first minute of the second half to give the Blazers a 38-34 lead. Marshall quickly responded with a 9-0 run over the next 2:23 to take a 43-38 lead. Taylor scored five of the nine points during the Herd run. A pair of baskets by UAB’s Dirk Williams cut Marshall’s lead to 43-42 with 13:23 to go in the contest, but the Herd responded with an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 51-42 with 11:22 to go. Penava and Elmore combined to score all eight points during the run.
A 6-0 run for the Blazers cut UAB’s deficit to 51-48. The three-point deficit was the smallest lead that the Herd had for the rest of the half. After Williams cut the Blazers’ deficit to 56-51, Taylor went on a 5-0 run of his own to extend Marshall’s lead into double-digits for the first time with 6:04 left in the game. A Taylor three-pointer gave the Herd its largest lead of the contest at 15 points, 68-53, with 4:09 left in the contest.
Consecutive baskets by the Blazers cut Marshall’s lead to 68-57 with under three minutes left in the contest, but a jumper by Elmore and a pair of Penava free throws extended the Herd lead to 72-57. Marshall closed out a 74-59 win, its second straight win after dropping its previous three.
The Herd finished the game shooting 26-of-65 (40.0 percent) and 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from three-point land. Marshall out-scored UAB in the paint, 34-24, and 27-12 off turnovers. The Blazers finished the contest shooting 22-58 (37.9 percent) field goals and 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) of its 3-pointers.
Head coach Dan D’Antoni
“Great win obviously, it was a quick turnaround. This is the kind of win where you don’t want to play for a while. We have a quick turnaround with Middle Tennessee coming here that is an awfully good team. This was a great start. We have a lot of work ahead of us [and] we have to get ready for Middle Tennessee. We fooled them with the game-plan, I know they worked against our offense all the time and they forgot about our lethal defense. It was spectacular tonight, Ajdin Penava was huge inside using his length and size. Jon [Elmore] controlled the game going down the stretch. He had a big game for us.”
On the offense:
“We did not shoot the ball well tonight. We had good shots too. Stevie [Browning] was struggling. His back was bothering him and that’s why I did not put him back in. C.J. [Burks] was playing well, he played very hard tonight [and] he got into their guards.”
On the defensive game:
“They hurt us at UAB with [William] Lee popping back, they would pick and he would pop back. We worked on that in practice and going four-four rotation getting our guard over there. We did a good job of cutting that off tonight, then when he went inside, we had Penava there and it’s very tough to get over his reach.”
On Middle Tennessee:
“Middle is a well-coached team. I love Kermit Davis and the way they play. They are a determined bunch. We just have to come out and do the same. The last time they come out here, I think we took them out pretty quick. We are a good team and we have been on the boarder of being a great team. We have to play at a high percentage of performance. Excluding tonight, we don’t have length we don’t have the physical guards. All of our stuff comes off of execution. If we don’t execute right and that balls not moving, we are ordinary. When we get that energy going and if we can maintain the length we showed tonight, we are going to become a really good team.”
No. 33 junior guard Jon Elmore
On difference between two games vs. UAB:
“That was a great team win. Two tough games last year and they kind of whooped us down there this year. We really came together. We took three losses in a row and felt like we weren’t playing up to our full ability, and I think we came together and showed what we can do tonight.”
On winning by doing different things:
“We’re still offensive-minded, but it seemed like we really locked up on defense tonight and held them to 59 points. I don’t think we’ve held them to under 60 [points] in a long time.”
On winning with team shooting under 26% from three:
“Usually no, but the way we played defense tonight, I think we could have beaten a lot of teams shooting like that. Like coach said earlier, that was uncharacteristic of us. We kept chipping away, we kept sticking to our X’s and O’s and it paid off whether we were making shots or not.”
On Dirk Williams’ Performance:
“They’re a great team. They have a lot of weapons. If we can hold the rest of the team down and have one guy get going, that’s pretty good for us.”
On Middle Tennessee this Saturday:
“Yeah we got a test. Middle is a great team, they’re on a great run right now. I think if we keep playing like we have the past two games, we’ll be ready for them. We know what they got and we’ve seen them multiple times, so we’re going back to the drawing board tomorrow and get a little bit better and prepare for them. Hopefully everybody will come out again and pack the Cam and get the atmosphere. We’re definitely not scared of them. We’re going into the game, we think we can beat them and we want to win. We’re going in full-steam-ahead, ready to go.”
On winning in conference play/outlook for next five games:
“Any win in conference play is huge for us. If we can keep running them off towards the conference tournament and try to get as high of a seed as possible, we can make that tournament run.”
No. 11 sophomore forward Ajdin Penava
On getting Lee in foul trouble, rebounding performance:
“It was definitely a big thing. [Lee] is a good player and if you can get their best players off the court, it definitely gives us more space, especially in the offense because he’s one of the leading shot-blockers in the conference.”
On diving on floor in second half/50-50 hustle plays:
“We played physical tonight. We dove for every ball. I think our team effort was the biggest reason we won tonight. And we have to bring that every game.”
On wild pass/Burke three at the buzzer:
“I don’t know what happened there. I just know I threw the ball behind my back and I turned around and saw the crowd go crazy. Whatever happened, it was a good play. Coach has been telling me the whole season that I need to finish up strong and we practice that every day. And when we got into the game it just happened. So, credit goes to coach on that play.”
Marshall registered its first win over the Blazers since January 11, 2012 in Birmingham with a 61-59 victory.
It was the team’s first win over UAB in Huntington since January 19, 2008 in a 62-57 win. Since 2008, the team has lost five times at home to the Blazers by six points or less.
The win is only the team’s second win this season scoring under 80 points (71-61 victory over Jackson State).
Ryan Taylor’s seven rebounds were enough to move him into top-10 in Conference USA history in career rebounds.
The team is now 3-0 when tied at halftime this season, as the score was tied at 34-34 at the break.
Ajdin Penava recorded his first career double-double, as he set a new career high in rebounds with 10. His previous high was eight, a feat he accomplished twice earlier this year at Cincinnati and at Florida International.
The Herd used two separate 8-0 runs and one 7-0 run in the second half to pull away from UAB.
Jon Elmore led the team in scoring, marking the 12th time he has led or tied as the lead scorer for Marshall.
UAB’s 59 points were the least amount of points given up this season by Marshall.
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The Herd will stay at home to host the leaders of Conference USA, Middle Tennessee, Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ASN.