Marshall was not able to solve the zone defense of Wisconsin-Green Bay with junior Chris Lutz on the bench with a hamstring injury. But the Herd was whistled for 26 fouls, 15 of which were in the second half, that saw the Phoenix keep the lead when they started the second half without a field goal until the 13:03 mark of the second half.
The Herd dug out of a 39-30 hole at halftime, and an eventual 11-point lead by UWGB that eventually grew to 43-32 just a minute into the second half. A three-pointer by Markel Humphrey was followed by a dunk by Florida native Shaquille Johnson, cutting the lead to 45-38. A three-point play by frosh point guard Damier Pitts cut the lead to 45-40 and Tyler Wilkerson's lay-up made the score 45-42. After two UWGB free throws, Brandon Powell hit a three and Pitts laid in another basket to tie the score at 47-all with just over 13 minutes to play.
Damier Pitts drove against UWGB's Chop Tang to score two of his 18 points in Daytona Beach, Florida. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
But the story remained the free throws of Green Bay. While hitting just 5-of-16 from the field in the second half, and only 1-of-5 from three, the Phoenix only trailed once in the second half as they hit 22-of-25 from the line. Pat Nelson was 9-of-11 in the game at the charity stripe, Troy Cotton was 6-for-6 and Mike Schachtner was 5-for-5.
Coach Donnie Jones was not happy with his three-point defense in the first half, when the Phoenix hit 6-of-10, but MU did do a better job in the second half. "We're playing hard but not smart," said Jones. "We send them to the line five more times, 35-to-30, and we make less of our shots, just 19."
Shaquillie Johnson blew past UWGB's Chop Tang (5) and Bryquis Perine (0) to score two of his 15 points in Daytona Beach, Florida. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Jones also knew his team needed to shoot better outside of the zone of Green Bay, and are missing the three-point touch of Lutz. "We just make 3-of-17 behind the line, and it's not like we didn't have some open looks. Chris is going to be out awhile with this hamstring, and you saw how it affected his shot yesterday."
Lutz was just 1-of-7 from the field and 1-of-4 from three, although he led the Herd in assists, steals and was tied for second on the squad with five rebounds in the loss to Morgan State by a similar score to today's game, 72-65 to the Bears Friday and 72-66 to the Phoenix today.
"We've got eight new guys and we're trying to figure out who we are. That's why we set up this tournament," said Jones. The new guys, at least two of them, had big days. For the third consecutive game, freshman Shaquille Johnson, playing in front of many fans from nearby Jacksonville, was in double figures with 15 points. Damier Pitts, the Herd's freshman point guard, had a good scoring game with 18 points to lead the team. He made up for a 4-for-17 night (0-of-4 from three) from the floor by hitting 10-of-11 from the line, with an assist, five rebounds and a steal. Johnson led the Herd in rebounding with eight, and also had two assists and a steal.
Also in double figures were starters Markel Humphrey, with 11 points and four rebounds, and Tirrell Baines, who was 4-of-5 from the floor for 10 points and who had five rebounds as well with a block. Brandon Powell and Darryl Merthie came off the bench for four points apiece, but were a combined 1-for-8 from three. the Herd shot only 38 percent from the floor (22-for-58) and only 3-of-17 from behind the arc (18 percent).
Green Bay had four in double figures, led by Schachtner who had 16 points including a 3-of-4 afternoon from three. Chop Tang had 14 points and was tied for the team lead in rebounds with Randy Berry, as each collected seven boards.
Marshall has one more game left on Sunday in Daytona Beach when they face the Rebels of Ole Miss in a 4 p.m. tip on the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network. Mississippi lost to Utah on Friday night, but did not play a game on Saturday. UM is 2-1 on the season.