One day after Marshall was admittedly bullied by visiting North Texas, the Thundering Herd took the fight back to the Mean Green for a 73-72 win Saturday at at the Cam Henderson Center.
MU (13-6, 7-5 Conference USA) and UNT (13-7, 9-3 C-USA) finished even at 31 rebounds each while the Herd outscored North Texas 24-20 in the paint — two categories the Mean Green dominated in Friday’s game. With the help of some hot shooting from sophomore guard Andrew Taylor and a solid game from junior Taevion Kinsey the team salvaged a weekend split against UNT.
“They’ve got pride,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “They’re not going to get knocked down like that and stay down. They all got up and had a lot more fight in them.”
The Herd led 35-33 at halftime Saturday despite North Texas leading for the majority of the game’s first 20 minutes. Taylor opened the second half with five quick points to pad Marshall’s lead, but despite never trailing from that point North Texas pushed the Herd to the limit.
With Marshall leading 73-72 with 4.7 second to play, North Texas inbounded the ball to a suddenly wide-open Javion Hamlet — last season’s C-USA Player of the Year who had battled down the stretch to give the Mean Green a chance to steal the win.
Hamlet received the ball near midcourt and was so open because Taylor — who was playing on a bad ankle — lost his footing coming off a screen near the foul line while attempting to get out on Hamlet. The North Texas standout dribbled to inside the 3-point line before putting up a shot, but it was off target as time expired.
“I didn’t really feel getting hit,” Taylor said. “I tried to push off on my bad ankle and I just fell on my butt. I was pretty nervous when I did it. I was thinking, ‘Oh no, this is going to be on film,’ but we ended up playing good ‘D’ and we recovered.
“It’s a good thing he didn’t hit that shot. I’d have probably opted out the rest of the season.”
Marshall’s backcourt was missing its leader with senior point guard Jarrod West sidelined with an ankle injury suffered in Friday’s loss, but the other guards stepped up in his absence. Taylor — who went 5 of 5 from beyond the 3-point line to tie a program record for 3-point percentage in a single game (with at least five attempts) — led Marshall with 20 points to go with five assists and six steals. Kinsey, meanwhile, finished with 18 points seven rebounds and two steals.
For North Texas, Hamlet finished with a game-high 28 points while teammate James Reese scored 15 points in the loss.
Marshall returns home for the final weekend of C-USA regular season play next weekend for a pair of games on Friday and Saturday against Charlotte.