"It was fun tonight. I was out there smiling and giving guys high-fives," said Marshall's Tamar Slay. "I hadn't had that feeling in a couple weeks. It was great just getting out there on the winning side of things."
And Slay hit the nail on the head. Winning by 25 on Senior Night should be fun, something sorely lacking from most Marshall games this year.
Surprisingly (or not, depending on which side of the fence you reside upon), Central Michigan jumped out to an early lead, up by as many as 8 points in the first half. That all changed when J.R. VanHoose made a layup with 9:27 left. Moments before, Central Michigan's star, David Webber, exited the game with his third foul. With Webber on the bench, Slay and company were free to run wild.
"Tamar did a good job on him (CMU's David Webber)," said MU coach Greg White. With Webber on the bench, MU gradually pulled away, and took a four-point lead, 32-28, at the half.
Marshall's Latece Williams throws down a nasty dunk on CMU's Chris Kaman in the first half.
With both VanHoose and Ardo Armpalu in the middle, Marshall went on a transition-game tear early in the second half to open up the lead on CMU. Two three-pointers by Monty Wright and Ronald Blackshear took MU's lead out to 16 points, at 52-36.
Central Michigan would never recover, and the Herd cruised on easily to the 25-point win.
"A lot of people have counted us out right now, but we came out and played probably the most complete game we've played all year, tonight," said Tamar Slay.
And complete is the proper term. Marshall out-shot, out-rebounded, and generally, out-hustled the Chippewas during the game: Marshall pulled down 45 rebounds to the Chips' 28. The Herd received 38 of their points in the paint, compared to CMU's 24 points.
Marshall was led in scoring by Tamar Slay, with 22. VanHoose added 19 points and 15 rebounds (6 of them on offense), and Ron Blackshear added 11 points.
Marshall shot 56% for the game (31-of-54), and 47% from three-point range (7-of-16), while holding CMU to only 35% shooting from the field (20-of-57), and 13% from three-point range (2-of-15).
"We won very decisively, and defeated their will," summed up MU coach Greg White. "I thought we got out, and when we got rolling, we exploded and opened the thing up quickly."
With the win, Marshall is now 13-14 overall, 7-10 in the MAC. The Herd goes on the road for the final game of the year at Akron this Saturday. If Marshall can win that game, they will host a first-round game of the MAC tournament in Huntington on Monday. If Marshall loses at Akron, they will be forced to go on the road for that first-round MAC tourney game.
Central Michigan falls to 8-17 overall, 5-12 in the MAC, with the loss.