"Boy, did he make some big shots," said Marshall coach Greg White. White is referring to two Dawn three-pointers in the second half from more than 30 feet away that found nothing but net. Dawn finished with 21 points against WMU, a career-high in only 10 games as a Marshall player.
Down 32-31 at the half, Marshall received sparks from Dawn and Temple transfer guard Ron Blackshear, playing in his first game since becoming eligible last week after sitting out the required one year. Blackshear drained two three-pointers in the first half.
Western Michigan jumped out to a six-point lead at 52-46 with 13 minutes left, but Marshall went on a 10-2 run over the next five minutes to take the lead back, 56-54. Marshall took the lead back for good when Dawn penetrated the lane and got the basket plus free throw.
Western Michigan would cut the MU lead back to one, at 72-71 with only 28.5 seconds remaining. However, Marshall's Tamar Slay stepped in front of a Robby Collum pass and cut loose for a fast-break dunk with 5 seconds left to pull MU back out comfortably, 76-71. J.R. VanHoose hit a free throw to seal the win with 3.8 seconds left, setting the final score at 77-73.
"We really had to fight hard for 40 minutes," MU coach Greg White added after the game. "We outhustled them. It's a great Christmas present to be 2-0 in the MAC."
Marshall was led by Dawn's 21 points; Tamar Slay had 17, J.R. VanHoose just missed another double-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and Latece Williams had 12 points. Blackshear's first game went well, as he hit the two long three-pointers for 6 points total.
"He's (Blackshear) pressing a little bit, trying to take it over," White said of Blackshear's eagerness.
Marshall now improves to 6-4 overall, 2-0 in MAC play. The Herd enjoys Christmas break before returning to action next Saturday night when the UMass Minutemen come to the Henderson Center in Huntington for a 7:30pm tip-off. Western Michigan, meanwhile, falls to 6-4 overall and 0-1 in the MAC. The Broncos face Oakland next Saturday.
Marshall 77 Western Michigan 73 - Final
Marshall - Ronny Dawn 21, Tamar Slay 17, J.R. Vanhoose 15
Western Mich - Ben Reed 22, Robby Collum 12, Reggie Berry 10
Marshall - J.R. Vanhoose 9, Tamar Slay 7
Western Mich - Taylor Bro 11, Steve Reynolds 8
Marshall - Ronny Dawn 5, Two Players With 2
Western Mich - Steve Reynolds 5, Robby Collum 4