Elgrace Wilborn made his first start since the season opener and recorded career highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds. WKU also placed five players in double figures in the non-conference matchup with Marshall.
"They are a good team, they played very well," Jirsa continued of the Hilltoppers. "They're 7-1 for a reason."
Anthony Winchester paced all players with 15 points, while the trio of Antonio Haynes, Courtney Lee and Danny Rumph added 10 each as WKU improved to 7-1 with their sixth win in as many tries against the Thundering Herd (1-6) at home.
"In general I thought we played extremely hard," Western head coach Darrin Horn said. "We were active on the defensive end, which helped us force a lot of turnovers."
"We looked tentative against the press, whereas we didn't against UAB," said MU coach Jirsa. "Those turnovers leading to points, you can't get around it."
WKU used 11 steals to force 24 Thundering Herd turnovers, which in turn led to 27 points for the Toppers. Western shot 50 percent for the game, outrebounded Marshall by four (33-29) and blocked four shots — all from Wilborn.
Wilborn hit 7-of-9 from the field, with nine of the 12 rebounds coming in the first half, while his four blocks were a season best.
Marshall never had the lead in the game, with WKU taking the lead for good with 17:49 when Lee sank a jumper after the teams traded baskets in the opening minutes. Winchester hit WKU's first three of the night at 14:31 to make the score 13-6, while Haynes connected on both free throws with 9:13 to go to cap an 8-3 run that pushed the Topper lead to 21-11.
"We had two really difficult stretches, one in the first half and one in the second, that were telling," said MU coach Ron Jirsa of Western's two runs during the game.
Haynes scored five straight points later in the half as Western led 30-21 with 5:13 remaining, as the Thundering Herd could only close to within seven points on two occasions before the break — Patton sank a pair of free throws at 3:55 (32-25) while David Anderson's dunk with 1:30 left made the score 34-37.
The Hilltoppers took an 11-point lead into the locker room with a Ty Rogers layup and two Jason Stonebraker free throws in the final minute.
Marshall — which shot 50 percent in the opening half, but made just 8-of-26 from the floor after the break — had only one field goal over the final 4:23 of the opening half, turning the ball over five times during that span.
Although WKU scored the first seven points of the second half, the Thundering Herd made a pair of runs to cut the deficit to nine. LaVar Carter hit both free throws at 13:33 to make the score 47-38, but consecutive baskets from Winchester helped the Toppers push back to a 13-point advantage midway through the half.
"Once we broke the press, we struggled to realize we could get the ball inside on a smaller team," added Jirsa. "That really hurt us there."
Rumph gave the Hilltoppers a 17-point lead on two occasions before Miles' three started an 8-0 spurt that left Marshall trailing, 61-52, with 2:57 remaining. Wilborn ended the run with a dunk nine seconds later as Western made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 1:46 to seal the win.
Marshall returns home to play High Point on Tuesday evening at the Cam Henderson Center at 7pm.
compiled from Western Kentucky sports information releases