"We went from the worst performance of the year (the loss to Illinois State) to the best performance of the year," summed up ecstatic Marshall coach Greg White. "It's a great honor for us to beat Kent. We're much younger than they are, but I thought our players outplayed their players tonight."
By starting forwards Mark Patton and David Anderson in the places of Ardo Armpalu and Monty Wright, White found the spark he was looking for. Anderson and Patton combined for a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor, 8-of-9 free throws, 8 rebounds, three blocks and 22 points. The duo also worked a number on Kent State star Antonio Gates. Gates finished with 23 points, but it must be noted that 13 of those came from the free throw line, limiting Gates to a below-average 10 points from the field.
"It feels good to go out there and have a team workout," Anderson said. "Me and my teammates did a pretty good job of stopping him (Gates). With the defense we were playing, he didn't do what he wanted to do."
Marshall led the game from beginning to end, getting off to a fantastic start when Anderson stuffed in a fast-break dunk on the game's very first possession. The Herd shot out to a lead of 9 points with 8:56 to go in the first half, with Kent State closing the gap to four, 34-30, at the half. Marshall's defense stopped Kent to the tune of 32.3% shooting (10-of-31), while the Herd blistered a 52% pace (12-of-23).
David Anderson laid in this dunk during the second half, as teammate Mark Patton and KSU's Eric Haut looked on.
Yet another Anderson layup/dunk propelled Marshall out to a 14 point lead at 56-42 with 10:39 left in the game. Kent State managed a 13-2 run to cut the lead to only three points with 5:32 left. However, Marshall hit 16-of-20 free throws down the stretch -all the while holding Kent to only 7 points- to seal the win.
"Every time we needed to make a play, we couldn't make it," said a frustrated Kent coach .
How stifling was the defensive effort? Consider the fact that Marshall collectively blocked 10 KSU shots during the game, plus held the Golden Flashes to a downright dismal 29% shooting (20-of-69, including only 9-of-31 from three point range). That's stifling.
And the Herd spread the wealth around offensively, to boot. Four Herd players hit double figures, led by Ron Blackshear's 15 points. Monty Wright (12), David Anderson (12), and Mark Patton's 10 did the trick, with Marvin Black's 9 points coming dangerously close to putting all five starters in double figures, a rare treat nonetheless.
"Kent's the class of the league," Marshall coach Greg White added. "Obviously, it's a great win for us."
"A great win for us."
The loss knocked the Flashes off the MAC East throne for the time being, giving the Miami RedHawks possession by 1/2 game. Marshall's record bumped up to 12-12 overall, 8-7 in the MAC, with the win. Kent State stutters to a 18-7 overall record, 11-5 in the MAC, with the loss.