Herd No Match For Latvia: 121-77

Marshall pounded Latvia 121-77 in an exhibition game on Thursday night to open the 2002-03 men's basketball season. A crowd of 2,823 got their first glimpse of a young -but athletic- Marshall team very different from those of years past.

"We've still got to work on a few things," said guard Monty Wright, who finished with 23 points. "The main thing right now is defense. We've got to just focus on our defense every day in practice. Hopefully, we'll get better at it."

After jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead courtesy of Wright (two three-pointers, two dunks), the Herd went on a 38-19 run in the first half on the talents of Ardo Armpalu (13 first half points) and Marvin Black (12 first half points).

Marshall guard Monty Wright makes one of his two steals during the first half of the Herd's 121-77 exhibition win over Latvia.

Then, Ron Blackshear got hot. The 6-5 guard from Camilla, GA hit 3 three-pointers to end the first half and give Marshall a very comfy 56-31 lead.

"I just go out and play hard and get 'em as they come," said Blackshear. "They came for me in the second half."

Yes, they did. Blackshear continued his hot shooting in the second half, draining five more threes. Against an undermatched Latvian squad (officially known as Unibanka Cesis of Latvia), the pickings were easy for Blackshear.

"When he got going, he got going," summed up coach Greg White of Blackshear, the team's leading scorer last year.

However, it wasn't #11 all alone on the court. The exhibition featured Marshall's newcomers (it was the first collegiate playing time for 5 of Marshall's 12 players). Forward Marvin Black was the new player who impressed the crowd the most, with 16 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. "He just makes a lot of good things happen," said coach White of Black."

"They were just excited about getting a chance to go out there and play," coach Greg White said of local players Mark Patton (6 points and 6 rebounds in 14 minutes of play) and Chad McComas.

All of Marshall's starting five finished in double figures (Black with 16, Wright with 23, Ronny Dawn's 17, Blackshear's team-leading 30, and Ardo Armpalu scored 19), and Armpalu led the way in rebounding with 9 boards.

Marshall shot 57% for the game (48-of-84), and hit the same percentage from three-point range (16-of-28) on the night. Defense isn't aplenty in games where the combined point total hits 198 points, but the young Marshall team did hold Latvia to just 41% shooting.

While obviously outmatching the Latvian squad, the exhibition did give coach Greg White something to go on as he readies his team for the upcoming season opener on November 22 at Niagra. "I saw a lot of good things," White summed up afterwards. "We didn't rebound the ball as well as we needed to. But we shot the basketball really well."

Marshall now readies for the second (and final) exhibition match of the year, a November16 game against Branch West Basketball in the Henderson Center. Game time is set for 7:30pm.

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