"Our defense was very good tonight," said head coach Ron Jirsa of the Marshall defensive effort in D-feating East Carolina, holding ECU to 8-of-26 shooting the three. Even worse, the Pirates shot only 9-of 33 inside the three-point line on the night, just 27 percent on the higher percentage shots. John Fields of ECU, who came in averaging a Conference USA-best 64 percent shooting from the floor, was held without a field goal attempt and missed three of four free throws. Fields is now 31-of-84 from the line on the season, only 37 percent at the free throw line.
Markel Humphrey scored a team-high 17 points against East Carolina. He drove past ECU's Taylor Gagnon in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall also welcomed back point guard Chris Ross, who had only played one minute against Houston after spraining his knee against West Virginia. "We have a whole staff working to get Chris back," said Jirsa. "Our trainer Jeff Carrico tried a different wrap tonight and Chris gave us 34 minutes and hit a big three." Ross hit his only three when the Herd was running clock with a four-point lead and the shot clock nearly down to zero. That put the Herd up by seven, 51-44, and was even bigger when Cory Farmer hit a three for ECU on the other end with 40 seconds to play. Ross had five points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a career-high two blocks. The Herd blocked ten shots in the game, just three less than the Marshall record of 13 set in 2000 against the Division II University of Charleston. Jean Francois Bro Grebe had four more blocks in the game to add to his season's total of 43 this season to go with four points on the night. Markel Humphrey had a career-high three blocks.
Mark Dorris put up a shot over East Carolina's Cory Farmer in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Humphrey led the Herd with 17 points and seven rebounds on the night, and has averaged 18 points per game the last six games for the Herd. Also in double figures was Mark Dorris with 12 points, who has hit 16-of-34 shots in the last three games (47 percent). For East Carolina, Courtney Captain scored 18 of the Pirates 52 points, including 4-of-11 from three. He also led the Pirates with eight rebounds. Darrell Jenkins added 13 points and eight assists, for the leader in C-USA in assists with now 114 assists in 20 games (5.7 per game).
Walk-on junior point guard Taurean Marshall played 11 minutes for the Herd tonight, teaming with Ross in the backcourt while at the two-guard. "I thought Taurean did a good job tonight for us," said Jirsa. "He is kind of a utility player in practice, playing many different roles and he really stepped up tonight." Marshall had three points, three steals (a career-high) and two assists with no turnovers in the game while playing good defense. Freshman center Tyler Wilkerson continued the good play that has seen his playing time increase the last seven games. Wilkerson scored five points and grabbed four rebounds in the game, averaging 3.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game over that stretch of games for the Herd. Wilkerson only scored six points and had 11 rebounds total playing in ten of the first 14 games.
Marshall returns to action on Saturday with a day-night double-header with the MU women as both will face the UAB Blazers. Royce Chadwick will coach his 700th game as a college coach and the Marshall women's program will play its 1,000th game all-time on Saturday at 2 p.m., heard on WRVC 930 AM. The men will face the Blazers at 7 p.m. UAB's men fell tonight at home to SMU, 60-56, to fall to 11-10 on the season and 3-4 in C-USA play. UAB and Marshall are tied for eighth place in league play with 3-4 records. Memphis leads the league with a perfect 8-0 mark and the No. 12-ranked Tigers are 18-3 overall. East Carolina is in last with an 0-7 C-USA record and 5-15 overall, losing the last 14-of-15 games played. Coming into Saturday's game, Marshall is 6-4 at home this season, while the Blazers are 4-6 away from Birmingham, Ala. The men's game can be heard on WRVC 930 AM, WDGG 93.7 FM and the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network.