Herd "Slays" WVU, 81-79

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- Tamar Slay's turnaround putback with 35 seconds left lifted Marshall over West Virginia 81-79 Wednesday at the Civic Center.

With 34 seconds left and the game tied 79-79 WVU's Drew Schifino blocked MU guard Ronald Blackshear, and the ball fell into Slay's hands. His putback -- the last of his game-high 23 points -- gave the Thundering Herd (9-8, 3-4 MAC) the lead for good.

West Virginia (7-10, 0-5 Big East) guard Jay Hewitt ran the clock down to four seconds, then drove the lane and missed. MU's J.R. VanHoose, who had 12 points and 18 rebounds, was fouled on the rebound, and when his initial free throw missed, Chaz Briggs' one-handed heave at the buzzer bounced off the backboard and rim.

"This is the biggest win of my career," Slay said. "The feeling is the greatest. I couldn't ask for anything else."

The loss was West Virginia's eighth in a row. The school record is nine, in 1937-38. Marshall snapped a five game losing streak on the season and a five game losing streak in the series. It was lost 10 of the last 12 to WVU.

"It's disappointing," WVU's Lionel Armstead said. "We just can't finish games. It's discouraging."

Neither team seemed to want to win in the first six minutes.

West Virginia fell behind 5-0 and failed to score in the first 6:01. It was the longest starting scoring drought ever for a WVU team. The teams shot a combined 1 for 18 from the field to start the game.

Marshall, off solid insight play and two threes -- from Monty Wright and Ronald Blackshear -- led 13-4 before a 10-0 WVU run gave the Mountaineers their first lead at 14-13 with 8:39 to play in the first half.

Jay Hewitt then sandwiched a three-point play between Chris Moss and Briggs' dunks before Schifino's driving layin and resulting free throw put the Blue and Gold ahead. Schifino led WVU with 18 points. Moss had 13 points and nine boards.

Blackshear, who scored 17 points on five of 11 three-point shooting -- hit two three-pointers and Slay added another to give MU a 31-23 edge. Schifino hit a driving layup as time expired to pull WVU within six.

MU went on a 13-4 run to start the second half off dominance inside and from behind the arc. WVU started to pull back in it when, at 9:30 p.m., the game was halted with 8:53 left and Marshall leading 62-55.

An automatic warning sounded over the Civic Center public address system warning people to evacuate the building because of an "emergency situation." It was a false alarm and play resumed at 9:44 p.m. Most fans returned to their seats.

"We didn't even think about it," Yeager said. "Nothing like Sept. 11 entered my mind." The break might have hurt WVU, which had momentum after rallying from down 15 to within seven.

"It was probably one of their players," Yeager joked.

West Virginia was without starting point guard Jonathan Hargett and forward Tyrone Sally. Hargett is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Sally had the flu.

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