By awful shooting, the Herd shot just 16-of-54 for the game, 29.6 percent. From three, the Herd was worse, hitting only 6-of-22 (27.3 percent), and only 4-of-15 in the first half. In fact, the Herd (9-13, 2-6 in Conference USA) saw Damier Pitts hit a three just three minutes into the second half. The next three was by Daryl Merthie, but it was nearly 11 minutes and 30 seconds later. That stretch saw the Herd go from being one point down, 34-33, to 22 points down (65-43). Just before Merthie's shot, MU head coach Donnie Jones picked up a technical foul during a called time out.
"That's a good basketball team," said Jones of Tulsa (16-7/6-2 and 2nd in C-USA). "They played very well, but I was disappointed in our team's effort tonight. We played with no fire. I was concerned about that at shoot-around (earlier Wednesday). When you have a young team who has lost some games here, coming off an emotional loss, and we have to be able to get them back and ready for the next game. But we were playing a top team, one of the best in the league."
Tirrell Baines fought with Tulsa's Ben Uzoh for this rebound in the second half. Baines was Marshall's only double-digit scorer with 10 points in the loss to Tulsa. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Jones was happy with his team's ability to shut down Jerome Jordan, who came into the game averaging 14.4 points and a league-leading 9.2 rebounds per game. Jordan had 25 points and ten rebounds against the Herd in Tulsa, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor and 11-of-12 at the line.
But Jones was not at all happy with his team's defense, allowing the Golden Hurricane to hit 80 percent from three (8-of-10) and 54.1 percent overall, 25-of-46. "I always give the other guys from Tulsa credit (besides Jordan and Ben Uzoh), they are a good team," said Jones, "but we have got to play defense better than allowing a team to shoot, what, 54 percent, and 8-of-10 from the three line. We have got to take that away. You are not going to win against teams at their level if you don't play better defense."
Tulsa was led by Justin Hurtt, who was 7-of-10 from the field, 3-of-4 from three and 2-for-2 from the line for a career best 19 points, ten above his average and 15 coming in the first half while the rest of the Hurricane only had 19 points to open the game. In the second half, Ray Reese (17 points), Ben Uzoh (12 points) and Glenn Andrews (10 points) joined Hurtt in the double-digit column, and Hurtt, Andrews and Reese were 8-of-9 from three combined.
Marshall's offense, however, was much worse than the defense. The best percentage shooters in the game were Shaquille Johnson and Dago Pena, but the two freshmen shot just 2-of-4 each with Pena making the only three on four attempts between them. The Herd leading was Tirrell Baines, who once again came off the bench. Baines scored 10 points, hitting just 2-of-8 and 6-of-11 from the line, along with five rebounds.
Shaquille Johnson laid in two of his eight points over Tulsa's Steven Idlet in the first half Wednesday night in Huntington. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
The Herd was led in rebounds by senior Markel Humphrey with seven boards, four on the offensive glass. Marshall did out-rebound the team that had C-USA's best rebound margin (plus seven), 35-28 with 20 being offensive rebounds. But Marshall only collected six second-chance points on those 20 boards on the offensive end.
"We had 20 offensive rebounds, and that did give us a chance," said Jones. "We did play hard attacking the glass, but we had a lot of misses that became rebounds." Jones also said junior Tyler Wilkerson, who had five points and five rebounds, two assists but four turnover, will have to have an X-Ray on tomorrow for a possible broken jaw.
Such an injury would really limit the inside game for the Herd, with only Baines, Octavius Spann, Humphrey and freshman Kore White under the basket if Wilkerson is out for any time. 6-10 sophomore center Marcus Goode went home two weeks ago for personal reasons.
Jones knows no matter the injuries or thin bench, Marshall will have very little time to get over two home losses in a row before Tulane comes in. The Green Wave upset Tulsa in New Orleans, 76-75 in overtime. "We have another game on Saturday and we've got to put this loss behind us," said Jones. "We will start getting ready Thursday for a good Tulane team."
Tulane, who fell to UAB on Wednesday night, will play at Marshall Saturday with a 9-12, 3-5 in Conference USA. The Green Wave has lost four of its last six games and is 4-6 in the last ten games, with both a win (at Tulsa) and a loss (to UCF) in overtime. They have beaten Rice twice in addition to the Tulsa upset for TU's three wins in league play.
Tulsa's Bishop Wheatley tried to get the charge on Marshall's Dago Pena, but was unsuccessful on this basket in the second half. Pena finished with eight points against Tulsa. photo by Greg Perry/HI staff
Marshall, on the other hand, has played four of eight games on the road including at Memphis (first in C-USA) and No. 2 Tulsa away and home. Third place in league play is UCF and UAB, and MU lost at Orlando to UCF and at home, in overtime, to UAB and also lost at seventh-place Southern Miss. The Herd has eight games left in league play, but only UTEP, Houston and UAB are above .500 in the league.