"That was a key play," said Marshall coach Donnie Jones of Humphrey's powerful dunk with 14:14 left in the game. Morehead State had cut a 7-point Marshall lead to just two points, 39-37 on a pair of Jamyron Steward free throws. On the next possession, Humphrey simply took the ball at the top of the key, drove to the basket, and made the dunk with authority.
"I just saw a clear lane," Humphrey said of the play after the game. "No matter what the score is, we have to play hard."
This Markel Humphrey dunk with 14 minutes left in the game changed everything for The Herd. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Up until that point, however, Morehead had hung around with relative ease. The Eagles had a five-point lead with 14:05 left in the first quarter, and changed the lead with Marshall an unusual 10 times in the first half. Maze Stallworth's 8 points and Leon Buchanan's 9 points enabled Morehead to keep the game tight until Robbie Jackson's layup with 1:57 remaining that gave Marshall a 32-27 lead. Mark Dorris hit a jumper to seal the Marshall halftime lead at seven, 34-27.
"We started switching everything," said Marshall coach Donnie Jones of Marshall's second half performance, "to give them [Morehead] one shot and one shot only."
The result was Marshall out-rebounding the Eagles by a commanding 43-30 margin.
A pair of John Lamb threes enabled Morehead State to cut Marshall's 11-point lead down to just two, 39-37, with 15:15 left in the game. Marshall's Humphrey decided he had had enough, and then came the dunk that changed everything.
"He's done so much for our team," said MU coach Jones of Humphrey. Humphrey's commanding dunk spurred a 12-3 Marshall run that effectively did in the Eagles. A timeout following Humphrey's key play revealed that he told Jones, "Coach, I'm not going to let us lose."
Morehead State's Cecil Brown found himself trapped by Marshall's Markel Humphrey and Taurean Marshall in the first half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Morehead would get as close as five points, 54-49, but once again Marshall would go on another run -this one of the 8-0 variety- to keep the Eagles at bay the rest of the game.
"Their size wore us down a little bit the last 10 minutes," admitted Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall. "Our momentum got broken a little bit."
Humphrey led the Marshall scoring with 16 points, adding 10 rebounds (four of them on the offensive glass), while Mark Dorris (13 points) and Tirrell Baines (10 points) also scored in double figures. The Herd shot 42.9 % from the field (21-of-49), while Morehead State mustered just 34.5% (19-of-55).
Marshall now bumps up to an impressive 4-1 overall, while Morehead State falls to 2-4 with the loss.
"Coach got on us and told us to pick it up some," summed up Marshall's Mark Dorris of the win. "We picked up our intensity more."