Blackshear, Black trigger Thundering Herd season-opening win over Niagara

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 24, 2002

NIAGARA, N.Y. -- The Marshall Thundering Herd played with emotion. They also played with Ronald Blackshear and Marvin Black in the lineup.

Blackshear scored 32 points including a big 3-pointer with time running out and Black added 25 points as the Herd won its season opener 92-90 over the Niagara Purple Eagles Friday before a loud 1,492 fans in the 2,400-seat Gallagher Center.

It was Blackshear's fade away 3-pointer that gave Marshall a 90-87 lead with 29 seconds left. Blackshear hit 10 of 17 from the field including 7 of 11 from 3-point range.

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"We made some mistakes, but working hard and playing with a lot of emotion makes up for that," Blackshear said."We played hard and rebounded our tails off."

Black, a junior college transfer, was 7 of 11 from the field and had seven rebounds. Center Ardo Ampalu added 11 points and hauled down nine rebounds.

"We fought and we fought and we fought," Black said."Playing in an atmosphere like this really gets me going. Niagara is a very, very good team."

Marshall trailed 48-45 at the half despite 16 points by Black before the break. Trammell Darden, James Reaves, and Juan Mendez scored all but eight points for Niagara. Darden was 7 of 11 the first half

for 17 points and finished with a career-high 30 points.

The Herd made 14 of 27 shots the first half for 51.9 percent and Niagara was 18 of 38 for 47.4 percent.

Marshall began the second half with a 22-11 run and jumped ahead of the Purple Eagles 67-59. But Niagara came back to tie the game at 69-69 with 8:09 to play and the see-saw battle was on.

After Blackshear's 3-pointer put the Herd up 90-87, Niagara missed a 3-point attempt and Black hit the first of two foul shots with 12 seconds left and it was 91-87 with 11 seconds left.

Following a Niagara timeout, Alvin Cruz narrowed the lead down to one with a 30-pointer that would set up a dramatic finish. Off of a Marshall in bounds pass with four seconds to go Ronald Blackshear was fouled. He immediately went to the line and made the first of two free throw shots from there the Purple Eagles called a time out with less than two seconds to go setting up a last second three-point shot from Rhossi Carros that missed wide left and gave Marshall the 92-90 win.

Blackshear finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and was a solid seven of 11 from three-point range. Black was seven of 11 from the floor and added seven rebounds. Ardo Armpalu scored 11 points and grabbed a team-high nine boards. Niagara placed five players in double-figures with Trammell Darden's career-high 30 points leading the way.

Marshall hosts Kentucky State at 7:30 p.m. Monday.