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Poor-shooting Herd beats Pikeville

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Ugly wins are always better than pretty losses. Just ask Marshall Thundering Herd coach Donnie Jones.

Despite poor shooting — especially at the foul line — Marshall managed to get past the Pikeville Bears 60-49 Tuesday in Jones’ head coaching debut.

“I wasn’t concerned with how pretty it was, I just wanted to walk out of here with a ‘W’ and we did,” said Jones, who beat his alma mater.

Marshall (1-0) converted just 4 of 14 foul shots in the first half but still managed to lead 27-14 as Pikeville made only 7 of 19 shots from the field.

The slow and sluggish start by both teams saw Pikeville leading 14-11 with 8:30 left in the first half as Jeff Ferguson hit 1 of 2 free throws, the only foul shots the Bears attempted in the half.

The Herd went on a 16-0 run, but it took nearly eight minutes to accomplish the scoring spurt. Pikeville finally ended the streak on a layup by Ferguson with 33 seconds left.

“I’m a little discouraged with our effort in the first half. We put up 16 pionts,” said Pikeville coach Kelly Wells. “But you have to give Marshall a lot of credit. Their style of play caused us some havoc early.”

A dunk by Markel Humphrey put Marshall ahead 40-28 with 12:40 to play, but Pikeville began to chip away and got within 44-42 on a 3-pointer by Justin Hicks at the 6:38 mark.

Marshall finally began to make foul shots. Converting 7 of 8 foul shots pushed the lead to 49-42. An 18-footer by Tirrell Baines and two free throws by Mark Dorris with 25 seconds left put the Herd lead at 58-49 and sealed the win.

“I was challenging our guys in time outs about finding a way to do the things to win the game,” said Jones. “I think it was a great test of will and character down the stretch to make plays and free throws, which was a big part.”

Humphrey led Marshall with a game-high 21 points. Dorris and Baines added 10 points each. Baines also had nine rebounds and Taurean Marshall handed out six assists to go with three steals.

“It was kind of difficult trying to penetrate them, but we just had to find a way to get into the gaps and look for the open players to know down the shot,” said Taurean Marshall.

Harris had 13 points and Ferguson 10 to lead Pikeville (2-2).

“(Pikeville’s) athleticism, their size and changing of the defense caused us problems,” said Jones. “We’ve played teams that are little under athletic than us and tonight we played a team with more athletes than we did (in the exhibition games).”

Marshall hosts East Tennessee State next Tuesday.