"If there is anyone out there that is a Marshall basketball supporter and they're wondering what the Donnie Jones era is going to bring, he's going to bring a lot of wins," summed up Rio Grande coach Ken French after the game. "He's going to get it done here."
And Jones' team did in fact get it done on Friday night. Marshall never trailed in the game, jumping out to a quick 16-4 lead on a three by Darryl Merthie. Merthie went 5-of-7 from three en route to a career 22-point night in front of 4,243 at the Henderson Center in Huntington.
Darryl Merthie drained one of his five three-pointers against Rio Grande on Friday night. Merthie scored 22 points in the 87-51 win. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Rio Grande would rally back to as close as 21-18, but a three by Matt Walls kicked off a 22-4 Marshall run to end the half, and give The Herd a 43-22 lead at the break. Merthie drained two of his threes in this stretch.
"We came in and we wanted to make them shoot the three," French continued. "This is one of the first games where they've had multiple guys step up and hit the three. They buried us. We had two five minute segments where we weren't very good and we got our head handed to us."
Pierre Marie Altidor Cespedes applied pressure to Rio Grande's Aaron Drakeford in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The second half was more of the same, with Marshall extending their lead to the 30-point level with 8 minutes remaining. The Herd shot a commanding 54.2% from the field (32-of-59), while draining 11-of-26 threes (42.3%). Rio Grande mustered just 36.5% from the field (19-of-52), and hit 5-of-15 threes (33.3%).
In addition to Merthie's 22 points, Marshall had double-digit performances from Tirrell Baines (13), Markel Humphrey (13), Matt Walls (12 points on 4-of-9 three-point shooting), and 10 points from Robbie Jackson.
Tirrell Baines blew past a Rio Grande defender for two of his 13 points Friday night . photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Rio Grande's Will Norwell scored 14 points, and Brandon Ivery added 11 for the Redmen.
Marshall now readies to face the Louisville Cardinals next Tuesday night at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The Herd improves to 5-2 overall with the win, while Rio Grande dropped to 2-6 with the loss.