"It was a good lesson for us," said coachDonnie Jones of his first game at the helm. "I'm happy with the effort."
And happy he should be. Four Marshall players tallied double figures in the game, led by Mark Dorris's 25 points, and a pressing defense forced 14 Fairmont State turnovers that converted to 17 Marshall points.
Markel Humphrey made this steal from Fairmont State's Dan Bruner in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
"It was tremendous," said Marshall guard Mark Dorris of the first game of the season. "I really like the pace. I've been looking forward to this more than Christmas this year."
Even the new guys got in on the act. Freshman Tirrell Baines was arguably the most impressive of them, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for a rare double-double his first time on the floor. Gonzaga transfer Pierre-Marie Altidor Cespedes (hereafter referred to as "P-Mac") showed his veteran skills at point guard, too, dishing out four assists and scoring 8 points.
"That's experience," coach Donnie Jones said of P-Mac. "He really stepped up and gave us what we needed."
Mark Dorris put up two of his team-high 25 points against Fairmont State Thursday night at the Henderson Center in Huntington. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Fairmont State played Marshall very close in the first half, hitting the halftime break down just six points, 39-33. Guard Thad McFadden's 17 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting gave Marshall fits at times, and Jones pointed out that the State offense was known to be a tough one to defend coming into the game.
"We knew that offense was going to be difficult," said Donnie Jones.
First-year coach Donnie Jones liked what he saw in Marshall's 84-67 exhibition win on Thursday night. "I'm happy with the effort," Jones said. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Jones made several halftime adjustments, the most visible of which was the attachment of P-Mac to the hip of State's Thad McFadden in the second half. The result was that McFadden only scored 7 points in the remainder of the game. At the same time, Jones relied on the experience of returnees Mark Dorris and Markel Humphrey. The duo combined for 42 of Marshall's 84-point output on the night.
"When things were tight," Jones continued, "those guys stepped up."
The tightness occured with 12:18 remaining in the game, when State cut Marshall's lead back to nine, at 59-50. Humphrey hit a free throw, then Dorris hit one of three threes to extend the Marshall lead back out to 13 points, at 63-50. Consecutive threes by P-Mac and Taurean Marshall effectively ended State's run, and put Marshall up by 18 at 71-53 with 8:30 still remaining.
Marshall's biggest lead would be 21 points, 84-63, with 2:03 left.
"I think we wore them out, more than wearing ourselves out," said Markel Humphrey of the second half.
Freshman Tirrell Baines made his Marshall debut a memorable one, dunking his way to 12 points and 10 rebounds. The opening performance caught Jones' attention.
"He played like a junior or senior," said the coach.
"He's a beast on the boards," added Markel Humphrey of Baines. "He played like an upperclassman."
Tirrell Baines put up two of his 12 points against Fairmont State.. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd shot 44.3 % from the field for the game, including 29% from three (9-of-31). Free throws -once a thorn in Marshall's side- turned out to be a positive, with The Herd making 13-of-17.
"Confidence," summed up Jones of the solid free-throw shooting.
Thad McFadden led Fairmont State with 24 points, 17 of them coming in the first half. Michael Lopez (12 points) and Adam Southern (11 points) were the only other State players to score in double digits. Marshall forced 14 turnovers by Fairmont State, and converted those into 17 points. Fairmont State hit just 40% of their free throws, shooting 4-for-10.
The excitement of Jones's first game as coach attracted a crowd that in years past was tough to get in the middle of the season, with an announced crowd of 4,081 showing up.
Marshall will play its second exhibition game of the season next Tuesday, when West Liberty State comes to Huntington for a 7pm contest.