Dorris knocked in a key three pointer with 1:54 to go in the contest to give the Herd a 79-76 lead after trailing for most of the second half to the Hilltoppers, who returned all five starters from last season's 21-10 team. In fact, West Liberty State led from the 16:19 mark in the second half until Dorris' jumper from the right wing. Travis Aikens, another Marshall newcomer, secured the Herd victory with two rebounds in the last minute as West Liberty State tried to even the score. Aikens ended the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
West Liberty State torched the nets –especially from three-point range– the entire night. The Hilltoppers fired 48.0% from beyond-the-arc, 44.6% from the floor overall, and 72.7% from the free throw line, while Marshall shot 42.3% from the floor, 31.0% from three, and 56% from the free throw line.
"It was important for us to play a game like this," said Marshall coach Ron Jirsa. "They play a totally opposite style than we do. They are a slashing team that doesn't have a big post presence.
Mark Patton dropped in two of his 13 points in the win over West Liberty State on Saturday night.
The Herd jumped on the Hilltoppers in the first half and saw its lead blossom to 12 points at the 12:38 mark (18-6). West Liberty State had only one lead in the opening period, 5-4, in the early going.
However, the second half was a different story, as the Hilltoppers made a game of it with clutch shooting, especially from Shane Maynard, who led all scorers with 23 points, and Dan Binggeli, who made 5-of-7 shots from three and ended the contest with 20 points. The game was tied five times in the second half, and West Liberty State had a lead that stretched to as many as seven points.
"They set a lot of screens, so it was hard to stay with them," said Marshall senior center Mark Patton (Barboursville, W.Va.), who ended the game with 13 points. "We've got to play better defense and get down and guard someone.
"They were physical and a lot of times were playing zone, and it was hard to get open and find open spots. But as the game went along, we got better at finding the open spots. It was good to get the close game experience now and I think it will help us in the long run. We know we have to play hard at the end but at the same time we have to play hard for the entire 40 minutes."
Dorris led Marshall with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while also adding nine rebounds and seven assists. Aikens contributed his double-double, and both Patton and junior guard Chris Ross added 13 points apiece. Ross had five steals, the first time that has occurred since Ardo Armpalu had five steals against Northern Illinois on December 7, 2002. Senior forward LaVar Carter contributed four points, eight rebounds, and four blocks.
Maynard and Binggeli led the way for West Liberty State, while Cory McDuffie tallied 14 points to close out the Hilltoppers' double-digit scorers.
Marshall returns to the floor next Saturday evening against another WVIAC school, Glenville State. The game tips off at 7 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game with Glenville State, which begins at 4:30.