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Marshall begins to build with win over Jackets

Tribune Sports Editor

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Maybe this time Ron Jirsa is using union contractors.

Hoping to get a solid foundation to rebuild the Marshall basketball program, Jirsa saw some strong building blocks as the Thundering Herd routed the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets 87-66 Monday in an exhibition game at the Henderson Center.

“We’ve got something to build on,” Jirsa said as he prepares to enter his fourth season at Marshall. “I was pleased with our effort tonight. That’s how it’s got to be all year.”

Some of the key building blocks were Travis Aikens, Jean Bro Grebe, Mark Dorris and Darryl Merthie.

Aikens had 16 points, Bro Grebe got 12 points and five blocked shots, Dorris 17 points and Merthie 18 points.

Markel Humphrey grabbed seven boards as the Herd held a 51-45 rebound advantage.

“In the first half, I was nervous and had about three airballs,” Merthie said. “Markel told me to keep shooting and in the second half I got going and played my game and got my teammates involved.”

Marshall led 46-34 at the half, then got going in the second half and built as much as a 26-point lead on a dunk by Bro Grebe with 4:323 to play.

“Tonight was great,” Bro Grebe said. “(My teammates) were pressing and I stayed back and blocked shots. I liked it and it was a lot of fun.”

The Herd’s pressure forced 17 turnovers including nine steals.

“That is something we have worked on a lot in our early practices,” Tre Whitted said. “We want to score off turnovers and get more shots than our opponents. That is something we did tonight.”

Marshall opens its regular season at 4 p.m. Saturday against North Carolina-Greensboro at the Henderson Center.

West Virginia State3442=66

Marshall4641=87

WEST VIRGINIA STATE (66): James Helton 2-3 4-4 8, Anton Duncan 7-12 3-6 14, Jason Slay 2-6 0-0 5, Ted Scott 5-23 0-0 11, Alfred Walsh 1-3 0-0 2, Perrick Robinson 2-7 1-2 6, Tim Contee 1-2 3-4 6, Joe Benjamin 2-6 1-2 5, Wade Pidock 2-4 1-1 6. Totals: 24-66 13-19 66. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Pidock. 3-point goals: 5-18 (Slay 1-4, Scott 1-7, Walsh 0-1, Robinson 1-2, Contee 1-1, Pidock 1-3). Rebounds: 14-31=45 (Duncan 14, Helton 5, Contee 5, Benjamin 5). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 10 (Robinson 6, Contee 3). Steals: 7 (Robinson 2, Benjamin 2). Turnovers: 17. Blocked shots: 1 (Duncan). Technicals: Pidock.

MARSHALL (87): Travis Aikens 5-13 6-11 16, Markel Humphrey 3-9 1-2 8, Jean Bro Grebe 6-8 0-1 12, Chris Ross 2-5 1-2 6, Mark Dorris 6-11 4-6 17, Darryl Merthie 6-18 1-2 18, Tre Whitted 3-5 0-2 8, Robbie Jackson 1-2 0-0 2, Taurean Marshall 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler Wilkerson 0-3 0-0 0, Jesse Oblesby 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 32-78 13-26 87. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 10-34 (Aikens 0-6, Humphrey 1-4, Ross 1-3, Dorris 1-2, Merthie 5-11, Whitted 2-4, Marshall 0-2, Wilkerson 0-2). Rebounds: 22-29=51 (Humphrey 7, Dorris 6, Bro Grebe 5). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 21 (Ross 9, Marshall 5). Steals: 8 (Ross 4, Marshall 2). Turnovers: 13. Blocked shots: 9 (Bro Grebe 5). Technicals: None.