WVU Beats Marshall 77-63 In Capital Classic

It appeared Marshall was on its way to another win over West Virginia when the Thundering Herd jumped up by 13 and led at the half 26-21. As it has been all season for the Herd, however, nothing is ever for sure in another half and form held tonight when WVU shot 67 percent in the second half, 5-of-7 from three, and went on to out-score MU 56-37 in the second half in a 77-63 win in Charleston.

West Virginia won by 14 points, a rare rout in the annual, and newly renamed, Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic in the Charleston Civic Center. In the last eight games between MU and WVU, the average score was eight points as West Virginia had won five of those games but Marshall three of the last five, including the 2005 and 2006 games. This year, however, WVU was led by Frank Young with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 3-for-6 from three. Joe Alexander, a freshman for the Mountaineers, scored 13 points in the game and all came in the second half of the contest when WVU shot 18-of-27, 67 percent, and 5-of-7 from three, 71 percent.

Jean Francois Bro Grebe slammed this dunk during the first half against WVU. Marshall ran out to a 13-point lead in the half, only to watch WVU rally back in the second half for the win. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall was called for 21 fouls in the contest, but 13 of those came in the second half against the Herd. That sent WVU to the free throw line for a 15-for-17 shooting second half, compared to just 5-of-8 for MU. In fact, WVU shot more free throws in the second half than Marshall shot in the game, where the Herd hit only 6-of-11 for the night, just 55 percent. The stat that was the biggest difference, however, was that West Virginia, a team averaging only 31 rebounds per game, out-rebounded Marshall 36 to 25 on the night.

Darryl Merthie blew past WVU's Frank Young for this layup in the second half. Merthie finished with four points. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

The Herd was led by sophomore Markel Humphrey with 18 points and seven rebounds. Humprhey also had a couple of rim-rattling dunks in the first half when Marshall forced 11 turnovers and turned them into 17 points. Senior Travis Aikens also had seven rebounds to go with seven points, as he hit one of the three three-point shots the Herd had on the night (just 3-for-19). Mark Dorris had 14 points, shooting 6-of-13, and added three assists and three rebounds. Freshman Tyler Wilkerson had another career high with six points, on 3-of-5 shooting, and added a rebound and assist in just six minutes of play.

Marshall did so many things right in the game to have lost by 14. The Herd out-scored WVU in the paint, 46-to-26; Marshall scored 25 points off WVU turnovers, to just seven points off the MU turnover by the Mountaineers; and Marshall led in fast-break points, 22-8. But Marshall went from aout 13 minutes to play, leading 38-35, without a field goal until 10:35 to play. By then, West Virginia was up 43-38 in the game and that stretch included a technical foul on MU head coach Ron Jirsa, following a Darryl Merthie foul. Then, for about one minute between the seven and six minute mark of the game, WVU went on an 8-2 run to get up by 10, 62-52, and the game was basically decided at that point.

Markel Humphrey put up two of his 18 points over WVU's Darris Nichols in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall (7-12, 2-3 in Conference USA) gets back into league play Saturday against the Houston Cougars, who beat Central Florida in overtime tonight in Houston, 73-70, to improve to 8-9 overall and 3-2 in league play. The game is 7 p.m. in the Cam Henderson Center.

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