Wright's layup followed a layup by the Huskies' P.J. Smith that cut Marshall's lead to 77-76 with about eight seconds to play.
"When I looked down the court I saw Monty wide open and I got him the ball," said VanHoose, who finished the night with 13 points, nine rebounds, and a team-high four assists. "They were celebrating their made basket and I was able to find him down court. We just made the plays we had to down the stretch."
Marshall guard Monty Wright battles for a loose ball. Wright hit the game-winner on a full-court pass from J.R. VanHoose.photo by Rick Haye for Herd Insider
Marshall (5-3, 1-0 in the MAC) staved off a strong second-half comeback by the Huskies. The Thundering Herd led Northern Illinois by as many as 16 points in the first half, only to see the lead dwindle to 43-39 at the half. Northern Illinois (1-5, 0-1 in the MAC) would take the lead four times in the second half leading by as many as seven points. However, at the 1:41 mark VanHoose hit a layup from Latece Williams to tie the game at 74-74. From there, Williams blocked a Leon Rodgers shot and made a layup on the other end with 34 seconds to go to put Marshall up to stay (76-74).
"Our team this week has had a never say die attitude," said Marshall head coach Greg White. "The bottom line is we needed to win and we did. I would take another 20 like this."
Marshall's Tamar Slay continued his solid play by scoring a game-high 28 points. The 6-9 senior guard from Beckley, W.Va., also recorded six rebounds, three assists, and three steals in the victory. Arguably, Marshall's best performance on the night came from senior forward Latece Williams. The Rome, Ga. native, recorded a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Overall, Marshall shot 50% from the field (28-56), while limiting the Huskies to 43.9% from the floor (29-66). Northern Illinois out-rebounded Marshall 39-36, however committed one more turnover than Marshall, 17-16.
Marshall will look to extend its five game winning streak when it travels to Mobile, Ala., to battle Auburn in the night cap of the Coors Classic double header at the University of South Alabama. Tip-off is slated for 8:30 p.m. EST.