"We hung in there," quipped Marshall coach Ron Jirsa after the dramatic win. "We were able to overcome [turnovers] with clutch shooting down the stretch."
In the first-ever meeting between the two 'future' Conference-USA members, UAB jumped out to a solid 36-31 lead at the half. The Blazers' Gabe Kennedy (who originally signed with Marshall out of high school) led the way, and finished the game with a team-high 20 points in the loss.
UAB's frenetic pressing defense kept Marshall at bay all night long, and the Blazers had an 11-point lead (51-40) with 13:17 remaining. Marshall guard A.W. Hamilton drained a shot-clock-beating three-pointer with 7:02 left to get The Herd within four points at 60-56. Ronny Dawn's three on the next possession cut the lead to three at 62-59.
Dawn would drain his second three of the half -and the most important one- at the 1:45 mark to give Marshall the go-ahead lead at 64-62. UAB's Kennedy hit two free throws to tie the game up once again, a feat he repeated one minute later (66-66) after MU's Tre' Whitted hit a basket.
Marshall's Ardo Armpalu rebounded Kennedy's miss of a potential game-winning shot, and The Herd called timeout with only 2.3 seconds left in the still-tied game. A.W. Hamilton lobbed an in-bounds pass to Mark Patton, who was fouled as the ball rimmed out with only .4 of a second remaining, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Patton calmly stepped up to the line at the Bartow Center and drained both free throws to give Marshall the 68-66 win. UAB's in-bounds pass was deflected by MU's David Anderson, sealing the win.
"You can't hope for anything better than that," said Jirsa of Patton's game-winning heroics. "We had all our guys contribute."
Marshall overcame 24 turnovers on the night, but did outrebound the Blazers by a decided 42-31 advantage. The Herd was led in scoring by Marvin Black with 13 points, followed by Ronny Dawn and Mark Patton with 10 points each. Tre' Whitted added 8 points, while David Anderson and Ardo Armpalu both had 7 points.
UAB was led by Gabe Kennedy's 20 points.
Marshall evens out at 4-4 overall with the win, while UAB drops to 6-4 overall with the loss. Next up for Marshall is a road trip to face the Chippewas of Central Michigan this Saturday afternoon. Game time is 2pm.