Herd Blasts Rockets, 79-58

Ron Blackshear exploded for 32 points and his teammates just plain beat up the Toledo Rockets, 79-58, at the Henderson Center on Saturday night. Marshall is now officially 'on fire' in the always-tough MAC, with a 4-0 record.

Add on top of that the fact that this same Toledo squad recently beat then-#14 Michigan State at East Lansing, and the win over the Rockets is even sweeter.

"We kind of ran into a buzz-saw," said Toledo coach Stan Joplin. "We didn't do a very good job defensively. That really hurt. They (Marshall) were just a little too physical for us."

Marshall's relentless defense held Toledo's top scorers -Nick Moore and Keith Triplett- to 9 and 5 points, respectively. At the same time, Marshall's Ron Blackshear erupted for 32 points -including 7-of-11 from three-point range- as Marshall pulled away from the Rockets and stayed in front the entire 40 minutes.

Marshall shot out to a 26-11 lead midway through the first half, behind three three-pointers by Blackshear and Marvin Black's thunderous dunk on the game's first play. Toledo slowly inched back to within four at 28-24 with 4:35 remaining on Sam Villegas' layup. However, two Mark Patton steals led to the David Anderson highlight show. Anderson -who transferred to Marshall from Oklahoma State- hit an easy 8-footer after the first Patton steal, and was left wide open for the uncharacterisitic three-pointer on the second one.

Anderson's quick five points (he would finish with 14) enabled Marshall to enjoy a comfy 12-point lead at the half, 36-24.

"We can score already," Anderson said. "But if we play defense, we're going to win games."

Marvin Black jammed this dunk on the game's opening play, as Toledo's A.J. Shellabarger looks on.

And that's where things stood for the better part of the second half. Marshall kept Toledo at arms' length, never allowing the Rockets within 10 points. Then, Ronny Dawn and Ron Blackshear got red-hot. Glowing.

Dawn drained a three-pointer with 10:09 remaining on the assist from Blackshear. On the very next possession, Dawn returned the favor, finding Blackshear open for a long-range three of his own. The quick 12-5 mini-run all but sealed Toledo's fate, shooting Marshall out to a 65-44 lead.

"I think I was due," Blackshear laughed about his hot shooting touch. "We had fun."

Marshall extended their lead to as many as 26 mainly via free throws over the final 4:53 of the game. The Herd shot 84% (16-of-19) from the free throw line.

"Bottom line is, we did a very good job," Marshall coach Greg White summed up. "We're dominating the hustle stats, and those are the things that win a game for you. I can't control a lot of things, but I can control by benching people if we're not competing. This team is really working hard."

Defensively, Marshall shut down both Nick Moore and Keith Triplett of Toledo. Only Sam Villegas was Toledo's lone double-digit scorer, with 15 points. Marshall outrebounded Toledo 40-30, as well as holding the Rockets to 35% shooting, while the Herd drained a solid 52% (27-of-52) from the field.

With the win, Marshall is a perfect 4-0 in Mid-American Conference play, and 8-3 overall. Toledo dropped to 1-2 in the MAC and 7-6 overall. Marshall now prepares to face Central Michigan on Tuesday night at the Henderson Center in Huntington. Game time is set for 7:30pm.

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