RUSTON, La. – Before a near-capacity crowd of 7,355, the Marshall men’s basketball team was affected early and often against the Louisiana Tech full court press and trap defense, leading to 22 turnovers and a 98-77 defeat for visiting Marshall, Saturday night on Karl Malone Court at Thomas Assembly Center.
The Bulldogs improve to 17-4 on the season and 5-1 in Conference USA play, while the Thundering Herd falls to 7-14 on the season, 1-5 versus conference foes. LA Tech continued its success against Marshall and is now 3-0 all-time in the series, 2-0 in Ruston.
Coach Tom Herrion once again adjusted the starting lineup, making it the fourth lineup in as many games for the Herd. This time consisting of Shawn Smith (Sacramento, Calif.), Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.), TyQuane Goard (Charleston, W.Va.), Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis) and Tamron Manning (Georgetown, Ky.).
Taylor opened the Marshall scoring with a layup, putting his side up 2-0 before the Bulldogs full court press and trap defense affected the Herd mightily as a 13-0 run made it 13-2 just 2:03 into the game. The scoring run forced Herrion to burn two early 30-second timeouts.
At the first media timeout, the Herd trailed 17-6 after both sides exchanged a pair of buckets. As 15:51 remained in the half, Marshall had committed six turnovers which led to 13 LA Tech points.
Facing an uphill climb, Marshall began to settle into the game while combatting the crowd noise to bring the score to 21-18 on a layup from Taylor to force a Bulldog timeout as 12:29 remained until the break. LA Tech gained some breathing room with assistance from the three-point shot as the home team got hot from deep to extend its lead back to double digits.
The defensive pressure continued to influence the Herd as it trailed 57-39 at halftime. Through the first 20 minutes, Marshall had shot 58 percent from the field (14-of-24), but committed 17 turnovers which led to 20 Bulldog points.
Back out for the second half, LA Tech continued its mission for a victory by stretching its lead to the largest of the game, 25, with 16:20 remaining in the contest. A pair of long range jumpers chipped away at the deficit, but the Bulldogs capitalized on their possessions as well to keep the Herd at bay.
Despite continuing to battle for the remainder of the game, Marshall was unable to shrink the difference to single digits in the second half as LA Tech held on to win 98-77.
While the Herd shot an above average 51 percent from the field on the night (29-of-57) and out rebounded the Bulldogs (37-31), the category that did Marshall in was turnovers as the Herd’s 22 led directly to 29 LA Tech points.
Taylor collected the sixth double-double of his career on 17 points and 11 rebounds as he finished as the leading scorer for Marshall. Canty and Chris Thomas (Denver) rounded out the trio of double-figure scorer for the Herd as they recorded 16 and 13, respectively.
LA Tech displayed its bench depth as the Bulldogs recorded 44 points to 20 from the Herd. Bulldog point guard Kenneth “Speedy” Smith torched the Marshall defense in multiple ways as he finished with 17 points and 13 assists in 32 minutes of action to remain the C-USA leader in dimes.
The Herd will return home for two games in three days to continue C-USA play against FIU (Jan. 30) and Florida Atlantic (Feb. 1).