It was a tale of two halves, really. The first half was all Marshall, as The Herd blitzed out to a whopping 39-19 halftime lead. Ronny Dawn hit three three-pointers (Marshall hit seven in the half), while holding Ohio to just 19 total points on 27% shooting in the first half. Marshall shot a blistering 53.3% in the first half.
"Our defense in the first half was outstanding," Jirsa continued. "We got over in front of their big guys, and made it really tough for them. Add that to very good shooting, and we're ahead 20."
Fast-forward to the second half, and Ohio turned the tables on The Herd with full-court defense. Ohio forced 16 Marshall turnovers in the second half, and OU's Sonny Troutman added 19 of his game-high 28 points to cut the MU lead to 68-64 with under one minute to play.
"We were able to hang in there," said Jirsa.
Ohio's Jeff Halbert closed the gap to 69-68 on two free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining. However, Marshall's Marvin Black iced the win with two free throws (Black hit 7-of-8 FTs in the game) with 4.8 seconds left. Thomas Stephens' three-pointer shot as time expired went wide.
"We really did the job at the foul line, in the end. It was a game we really needed," MU coach Jirsa summed up.
Marshall was led by freshman Tre' Whitted's 17 points. Marvin Black (15 points, 9 rebounds) and Ronny Dawn (12 points) also scored in double figures. Ohio was led by Troutman's 28 points.
In addition to being the first win in Athens since 1998, the MU win also kept The Herd's hopes alive of hosting a first-round MAC tournament game. If Marshall beats Akron at home on Wednesday night, then Marshall will get the home tourney game, according to league standings on Sunday afternoon.
The Marshall-Akron game on Wednesday evening in Huntington is also MU's senior night. Game time is 7pm at the Henderson Center.