HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Despite receiving a boost from its home fans and a quick start, the Marshall men’s basketball team was still unable to secure its first Conference USA win of the season, falling 69-52 to Tulsa, Saturday afternoon in a contest that was televised on CBS Sports Network from the Cam Henderson Center.
Tulsa improves to 8-10 overall and 3-1 in league play with the win, while the Thundering Herd drops to 6-13 on the year, 0-4 against conference competition.
Marshall coach Tom Herrion shifted the starting line-up, giving junior forward Shawn Smith (Sacramento, Calif.) his first-career start for the Herd, while junior big man Cheikh Sane (Dakar, Senegal) was re-inserted into the starting five.
Marshall jumped on the visitors early on to take a 17-8 lead that was punctuated with an alley-oop from freshman guard Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.) to sophomore guard Chris Thomas (Denver) as 7:34 remained in the first half.
The Golden Hurricane would hang around and take a 25-20 deficit into the halftime break, with 11 of its 20 points having come off the bench. At the half, Thomas led all scorers with seven points in 14 minutes of action.
After a defensive struggle in the first 20 minutes that led to little scoring, both sides became more at ease with scoring the basketball from the field. Tulsa knotted the game up at 36 after a 10-2 early run in the second half to close the gap.
With 10:31 left in the game, the Herd led 45-42 and Tulsa rallied furiously with eight points in 56 seconds to take a 50-45 lead with little over nine minutes left. The Golden Hurricane run snowballed, leaving Marshall scrambling to keep the score close.
Once Tulsa stretched its lead to double-digits, it would remain that way for the remainder of the afternoon as a 27-7 run took 10:17 off the clock. The scoring ended for the Golden Hurricane with 14 seconds left, which settled the score at a final, 69-52.
As the buzzer sounded, Thomas finished as the Herd’s leading scorer with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, followed by 12 points from Canty. Once again, Marshall struggled from the field, only shooting 32.8 percent on 19-58 for the game.
The Herd will re-take the road to continue league play with contests at Rice (Jan. 23) and Louisiana Tech (Jan. 25), with both tip times set for 8 p.m. ET.