The first half was rather forgettable from a Marshall standpoint. Saddled by 10 turnovers in the half, Marshall let Eastern Michigan slip away to a 9-point lead, 23-14, with 9:30 left in the first half.
Enter the 'Bruise Brothers'.
The debut of 6-9, 280-pound Serge Babo, coupled with LaVar Carter's insertion into the rotation, provided Marshall with a wide-body one-two punch that enabled a 16-6 run to put Marshall back in the lead, 29-28. The duo's nickname -aptly coined by Huntington Herald-Dispatch writer Rick McCann- fits like a glove.
"Did you see the look on the faces of the guys on the other team?" asked David Anderson of when the duo hit the floor in the first half. "They're physical and not scared of contact."
"You'll think twice before going in there."
Ron Blackshear scored a game-high 30 points in the win over Eastern Michigan.
Babo played his first game for the Herd since becoming eligible on March 5. His 8 minutes of action against Eastern Michigan netted him no points, but the effect of having a solid big man in the middle proved invaluable to coach Greg White.
"All of a sudden, their (EMU) interior game went away," added Marshall coach Greg White. "All of a sudden, our pace picked up."
EMU's Ricky Cottrill nailed a three as the buzzer sounded to give the Eagles a two point lead, 37-35, at the half.
The second half was just the opposite for Marshall. The Herd only committed two turnovers and nailed 23-of-29 free throws to maintain their lead down the stretch. The lead was ignited by Monty Wright's three-pointer with 5:36 remaining. After that crucial basket, it was all free-throw shooting for the Herd. Marshall made 16-of-19 free throws in the final minutes to preserve the win and advance to the second round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Cleveland's Gund Arena.
"That was a big run for us," Monty Wright said afterward. "It was just a matter of time. We always make big runs."
"It feels good to play well on your last night on your home court," summed up Wright.
Ron Blackshear had a stellar night, hitting 4-of-8 threes and 12-of-14 free throws, good for 30 points. Senior Monty Wright went out on a high note, hitting 18 points in his final game at the Henderson Center. And David Anderson added 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Eastern Michigan hit only 47.6% of their free throws, 10-of-21, and committed 14 turnovers in the game.
Marshall now prepares to face Kent State at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio this Thursday at 12 noon.