It was a slow start for both teams, but Vince Hunter, John Bohannon, and Julian Washburn each had monster nights, and the Miners used a 24-6 run to blow things open on their way to the 10 point win.
Neither team was able to gain any significant advantage in the first twenty minutes, but Bohannon and Hunter got things going offensively for the Miners in the early going, scoring the first 13 points of the game for the Orange and Blue.
Each team owned multiple leads in the first half, but neither owned one larger than three points. The Miners led the slow paced half 27-25 with about a minute to play, but a Ryan Taylor layup with :40 remaining knotted the score up at 27 heading to the break.
The Miners came firing out of the gates to start the second half, using a quick 10-0 run to go up 37-27 just 2:35 into the final twenty minutes. The Herd were unable to slow them down, as the run continued, and the lead ballooned to as many as 18 at 51-33 with 10:44 to play. But, this one wasn't quite done.
Marshall used a quick 14-3 run over the next four plus minutes to get back within striking distance at 54-47 with still 6:27 to play. They would eventually cut the lead to as little as five with still 1:37 to play, but they would come no closer than that, and fell by a final of 66-56.
Vince Hunter led the Miners in scoring, finishing the night with a career high 20 points to go along with 9 rebounds. John Bohannon had another huge night, going for 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Julian Washburn finished with 17 points and 3 assists.
The Herd was led by Ryan Taylor who finished with 18 points and 5 rebounds. Chris Thomas was the only other Marshall player in double figures; he finished the night with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
The Miners flat out dominated the boards from tip to finish, winning that battle 43-34, but did give up 14 offensive rebounds to the Herd. The Miners were also able to dominate in field goal percentage, shooting 46.8% for the game, while holding Marshall to just 31.1%.
The win improves the Miners to 11-6 on the season, but more importantly puts them in the win column in Conference USA. They certainly needed that confidence booster with a tough week of conference play ahead of them.
Coach Floyd had this to say following the win:
"Really happy about the win. We know that Marshall's had some very difficult losses on the road...they came in here and played very inspired. They played really hard after they got down 18. You have to give them credit for cutting it as much as they did. I thought that was the best effort that I've seen John Bohannon have in his career, tonight...He's assisting and its really helping him...Vince Hunter did some really nice things tonight. He's going to grow and get better and better. The ceiling is so high for this young man...All in all I thought it was a good performance."
And a good performance it was. All the way around. John Bohannon's performance put him into UTEP's 1000 point club, and he also moved into second place all time in blocks. Congratulations to him.
Despite the losses that this team has suffered, from the offseason until now, there is still plenty of talent and ability to make a ton of noise in conference play. But, to do that, they will have to play just like they did tonight, on an every game basis.
Considering the lack of depth, there will be no nights off for this team. They must continue to play tough and fight hard, but more than that guys like Washburn and Bohannon, and others like Hunter and Cooper have to be there, producing on a consistent basis. So far, they've been game.
Up next, Middle Tennessee awaits. The Miners will travel to Murfreesboro on Tuesday, before taking on the Blue Raiders Thursday at the Murphy Center. A trip to Birmingham for a Saturday date with the Blazers will follow that. Both games are set to tip at 6:00 p.m. MT.
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