Tiggs netted 17 first-half points and looked to be contained by the Thundering Herd (2-4) through the first 10 minutes of the second half (3 pts), but he erupted for 11 points in the game's final 10 minutes.
Tirrell Baines dunked in front of teammate Marcus Goode and ETSU's Adam Sollazzo in the first half. Baines had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to the Buccaneers. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall was not sharp to open the game, beginning the contest 3-for-10 from the floor and committing three turnovers in the first eight minutes of action to fall behind 17-10. The Herd found its groove midway through the period and tied the game at 20 on a Tirrell Baines (Laurens, S.C.) put-back dunk with 7:37 remaining. The Bucs, however, separated from MU toward the end of the half to enter intermission up nine points, 42-33, as Smith nailed a pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Marshall started the second half on a positive note as freshman point guard Damier Pitts (Charlotte, N.C.) sank a 3-pointer, sparking the Herd to a half-opening 13-4 run to tie the game. A Darryl Merthie (Sanford, Fla.) 3-pointer knotted the game at 46-46 five minutes into the half, which was followed by another Pitts trey to give MU its first lead since the 4:51 mark of the opening stanza.
Tyler Wilkerson tried to block the shot of ETSU's Kevin Tiggs in the second half. Tiggs had a career-high 31 points against Marshall. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
ETSU's Jarvis Jones, however, quickly answered Pitts' 3-pointer to again tie the game in what would begin a back-and-fourth game down the stretch. Marshall later found itself down six points, 59-53, but battled back to seize a 65-64 lead on a Shaquille Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla.) 3-pointer with 3:51 remaining.
Tiggs, as he did all night, sucked the energy out of the Henderson Center with a key field goal, this time a trey off a nice assist by Pigram with 2:15 remaining, to give the Bucs a lead they would not relinquish.
Down six points with 35 seconds left, the Herd used a Tyler Wilkerson (Lexington, Ky.) 3-pointer to get to within three points, 71-68, but Tiggs scored again on a full-court pass from Smith on the inbounds pass to essentially ice the game.
"(East Tennessee State) made some big plays downs the stretch," Marshall head coach Donnie Jones said. "I thought we had a shot down the stretch to make some plays and they did, we didn't. We have to continue improving. Obviously we're playing with some young guards as well and once we get some guys back healthy it's going to help out our basketball team. Good news, we got three days to get ready for our next game."
ETSU's Mike Smith felt the pressure of Marshall's Shaquille Johnson and Damier Pitts in the second half. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Bucs out-scored Marshall 42-16 in the paint and made it difficult for the Herd to get the ball inside. Marshall attempted 27 3-point field goals (12-for-27), including a 3-for-9 effort from beyond the arc from Pitts. Marshall guard/forward Markel Humphrey (Atlanta, Ga.) went 4-for-7 shooting, with all seven field goal attempts from 3-point range.
"I thought (Marshall) could really hurt us inside and we were concerned, so we played some zone," East Tennessee State head coach Murry Bartow said. "It's a good win for us. I like what Donnie (Jones) does with his team. It could've gone either way and I'm just happy it went our way."
Humphrey scored a team-high 14 points with three assists. Baines tallied his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Johnson scored nine points with a career-high six assists.
"East Tennessee has some guys that can take over and make some plays," Jones said. "Right now, we're trying to figure out who that go-to guy is for us."
Marshall's bench out-scored ETSU 20-9, but the discrepancy in points in the paint was the story of the game. MU's Octavius Spann (College Park, Ga.) netted five points off the Herd bench with a career-high six rebounds.
The Herd will travel to Boston, Mass., for a 3 p.m. contest versus Boston University on Saturday.