"Basketball is a game of runs," said MU's Tamar Slay after the game. "We made our run, and they made theirs. Fortunately, we made more than they did tonight."
It was Northern Illinois that came out of the gate on fire. The Huskies used a trapping triangle-and-two defense from the opening tip to get the jump on the Herd. It worked, to the tune of a 7-0 lead early in the first half. However, Marshall fought right back and tied the game at 7-apiece at he 15:12 mark.
Tamar Slay threes enabled Marshall to extend their lead to as many as 10 points in the first half, but the Huskies kept battling back, reducing that lead to only one point, 33-32. Marshall then went on another run, and enjoyed an 8 point lead, 42-34, at the half.
Marshall's Ron Blackshear hauls down one of his 12 rebounds against Northern Illinois.
In the second half it was more of the same. Northern Illinois would make a run at the Herd, and Marshall would dig in and hold ground. "We made some crazy plays in the second half, but we came out of that and started attacking," added White. "We got some easy ones."
NIU tied the game one last time at 42-42 on Marcus Smallwood's fast-break layup with 19:13 remaining. Marshall then extended the lead out to as many as 11 points, aided by Slay's dunk and VanHoose's fast-break layup.
NIU's Leon Rodgers drained 23 points in the second half, but still, the Huskies could not cut the MU lead to fewer than two points, 95-93. Tamar Slay benefitted from an intentional foul on an in-bounds play with 0.6 seconds remaining, and the two free throws sealed the Marshall win at 97-93.
"A terrific Marshall team," said NIU coach Rob Judson. "They seem to be playing their best ball as they come down the stretch here. Home court means a lot."
Marshall found their three stars -Slay, VanHoose, and Blackshear- doing some serious scoring, with 29, 28, and 28 points, respectively. The Herd shot 55% from the field (30-of-55), and 75% from the free throw line (27-of-36) in the win.
Marshall now moves on in the MAC Tournament, with a date with the Kent State Golden Flashes on Thursday afternoon in Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Game time is set for 12 noon.