Houston Threes Shoot Down Marshall, 71-58

Marshall had a long trip after an emotional loss to West Virginia Wednesday when they faced one of Conference USA's undefeated teams in the Houston Cougars. The Herd nailed its first three threes, but the UH knocked down 10-of-20 from behind the arc in the first half and 14 treys in the game to win 71-58 over Marshall. The Herd falls to 10-8, 2-3 in C-USA while Houston is 15-3, 4-0 in league play.

Marshall had no answer for the Houston attack, as the Herd missed 14 threes in a row after making its first three in the loss. The Cougars made six of its first seven three-pointers on the way to shooting 50 percent behind the arc in the first half. UH turned seven steals (on nine MU first half) turnovers into 11 points, for a 40-27 lead at the half. UH was led by Robert McKiver, who had 19 points on 4-of-12 from three and 7-of-18 shooting for the game. The Cougars knocked down 44 percent from the field (26-of-59) and 42 percent from three (14-for-33). Dion Dowell was 5-of-9 from three and added 15 points.

While the Herd's Darryl Merthie had his second-consecutive 20-point game, with 7-for-14 shooting and 5-of-9 from three for 22 points, the rest of the team hit just 14-of-50 on field goals and 2-of-17 from three. "It was just one of those nights," said Herd senior Mark Dorris of the total team's 21-of-64 shooting (32.8 percent) and 7-of-26 from three (26.9 percent). Dorris did score 11 points, but he was just 4-of-16 for the game and missed all four of his three-point shots.

He had lots of company in that, however, as freshman Matt Walls missed his first seven three attempts before hitting a final trey with 11 seconds left. Walls was just 1-of-8 from three and 1-for-10 in the game. Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes hit one of the Herd's early threes, then finished the game with two more misses behind the line and 1-of-5 on the night. PMAC had five assists, but turned the ball over four of 12 total giveaways by the Herd. "You have got to make shots," said head coach Donnie Walls. "Our freshmen, Matt and Tirrell, have seemed to hit the wall since we got into conference play. Baines really needs Markel in there to open things up for him, to give him some direction."

Markel Humphrey, the Herd's junior leader, missed his third consecutive game since suffering a hairline fracture in his heel early in January. Marshall is missing his nearly 15 points and six rebounds, having fallen to Memphis, at East Carolina, in Charleston to West Virginia and now at Houston since the All-C-USA player was injured. "He can't practice," said Jones. "He is riding the bike, and working in the pool. There is no time-table on his return." During that same stretch, freshman forward Tirrell Baines has struggled. Baines opened the non-conference portion of the schedule by having 11 of those first 12 games with double-figure scoring, including 19 points versus both San Diego and Winthrop in wins. Since starting C-USA play, Baines is averaging just 5.4 points per game in league play and scored only two against Houston, with just three rebounds.

Marshall's Tyler Wilkerson, who recorded his first collegiate double-double with 10 points/10 rebounds, battles Houston's Dion Dowell in Houston's 71-58 win over the Herd. photo courtesy of the University of Houston, www.UHCougars.com

Not that all in the loss was doom and gloom for Herd fans and players. First off, Marshall will return home to play Tulsa on Wednesday, and the Herd is 9-2 at home this season. Sophomore forward Tyler Wilkerson recorded his first-career double-double with 10 points and a career-tying best 10 rebounds. Wilkerson had seven rebounds on the offensive glass, as Marshall out-rebounded UH overall, 43 to 38, and on the offensive glass by 18 to 10. Junior center Jesse Oglesby got the first start of his career, playing five minutes with two rebounds. Sophomore UK transfer Adam Williams came off the bench to pick up career-bests in points with five and rebounds with four, and his 17 minutes played tied his career-best set playing defense against UAB in last Saturday's win over the Blazers. Sophomore seven-footer Robbie Jackson tied his season best with six rebounds off the bench, and added two points, a block, and led the team with two steals. MU's 12 turnovers in the game were six below the average Houston has been taking away from opponents, with the Cougars averaing 18 takeaways per game. In fact, after three quick turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half, the Herd never turned the ball over again.

Marshall returns home to battle Tulsa, coached by Wheeling, W.Va. native Doug Wojcik, on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Cam Henderson Center. ""We have played well at home all year, and the crowds have been a big part of that," said Jones of the near 5,000 per game the Herd is averaging. "As a coaching staff, we believe in these guys and we'll keep working. We have to get back Sunday, get some rest and get ready for Tulsa." The Golden Hurricane lost at UTEP Saturday night, 65-61, to fall to 9-8 overall and just 1-4 in league play.

In Conference USA, the game of the year will be Wednesday right back in Houston. The No. 1-ranked Memphis Tigers, who knocked off Gonzaga Saturday to improved to 19-0, will put its 6-0 C-USA record on the line against the Cougars, who are the only other undefeated team in the league after UCF was upset in overtime at SMU, 69-67, as the Mustangs' picked up its first league win against four losses. Also winning tonight was Tulane, by 72-56 at East Carolina, and Southern Miss, who kept Rice winless in C-USA by 71-53 in Hattiesburg.

HERD NOTES: Former Marshall point guard Chris Ross came to the game to watch the Herd play Houston. Ross is a native Texan who came to MU from San Antonio...The Herd was in Houston, Texas, back on Jan. 8-9, when Marshall picked up a win over Rice. The Herd once again had the same bus driver, who requested driving Marshall again, and "Mondo" was a great driver once again for the Herd...Marshall stays at Marriott's when they can, and returned to the University Marriott near the Rice campus again, in the midst of Houston's medical district. 16 hospitals surround the hotel, including three children's hospitals, and just down the street a couple of blocks is the Houston Zoo and Park. General Sam Houston, the founder of the Lone Star State, has a statue in the park...it's been a tough week for the people who work with the Herd. First, Jones and his wife, Michelle, welcomed their third child on Monday as "Sofie" joined older sister Madisyn and older brother Issac (sorry, you are now down 3-to-2, boys!) in the Jones' household. Last Saturday, MU Sports Information chief Randy Burnside suffered six fractures in his ankle and had to be taken to the hospital. He has not had the swelling go down enough yet to even cast the injury. Then, today in Houston, your author fought the wall, and the wall won, when slipping at the pool area and cutting, banging and bumping the right foot, arms and shoulders (but, thank goodness, not the low back!). Let's be careful out there!...Finally, Dorris had his wallet lifted during the trip by someone, so he will head to the airport early and try to get on the Continental flight to Charleston on Sunday with a media guide for identification. All members of the Herd are hoping for a little less bumpy three hour-plus flight back to Charleston as well.

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