Houston Presses To 77-61 Win Over Marshall

HUNTINGTON - Houston guard Robert McKiver led five players in double figures with 19 points to lead the Cougars to a 77-61 win over the Thundering Herd Saturday night in Conference USA action at Cam Henderson Center. The Herd drops to 7-13, 2-4 in the league. "We played one of the top teams in the league, certainly an NCAA tournament-caliber team," said Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa.

"We weren't good against the press tonight. We didn't come meet the ball and we threw it up in the air too much. We didn't do the things we needed to do to beat their press."

It was the Cougars' game from the outset, as the visitors opened the game on a 7-0 run. Marshall responded with a seven point run of its own to tie the game at seven, but it was as close at the Thundering Herd would get. The hot-shooting Cougars went on a 17-4 run six minutes into the contest to put them up for good. Houston led by 18, 44-26, at the half, and never saw its lead shrink to more than nine. The nine-point lead came at the 4:38 mark in the game at 65-56, but Houston's Marcus Malone knocked down a three on the Cougars' ensuing possession to push their lead back to double-digits.

Mark Dorris put up two of his 21 points over Houston's Jahmar Thorpe.. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall struggled with the Cougars' press all night, and had to do it without the services of its senior point guard, who played only one minute Saturday night after suffering a sprained left knee against West Virginia on Wednesday.

"We're pleased to get a win on the road against one of the more athletic teams in our conference," said Houston coach Tom Penders. "They're a well-coached team. Anytime you can win on the road it's huge. We jumped them early with our pressure and got them a little rattled. Without Ross out there, we thought we could get away with it (full-court press)."

Houston made 49% (24-49) of its shots from the floor and 45.8% (11-24) from three. The Cougars make the most threes in Conference USA, and it showed on Saturday night, when they made 11 shots from beyond the arc. Houston also made 18-of-22 from the charity stripe (81.8%), and forced 17 Thundering Herd turnovers, 13 of which came in the first half.

Markel Humphrey threw down this dunk in the second half against Houston. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff

Marshall shot 32.8% (19-58) from the floor, 22.7% (5-22) from three, and 66.7% (18-27) from the free throw line for the game. The Herd outrebounded the Cougars, 45-26, for the game.

Mark Dorris (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Herd with 21 points. Markel Humphrey (Ellenwood, Ga.) added 15 points, and Tre Whitted (Wilmington, N.C.) chipped in ten points. Freshman Tyler Wilkerson (Lexington, Ky.), who made his first start Saturday night, grabbed ten rebounds to lead all players.

McKiver led Houston with 19 points. Oliver Lafayette scored 16 points, Jahmar Thorpe added 12, Marcus Malone scored 11, and Dion Dowell chipped in ten for the visitors. Thorpe led the Cougars on the glass with nine rebounds.

Marshall returns to the Henderson Center hardwood Wednesday night when they face off against East Carolina. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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