The Marshall University Thundering Herd men’s basketball team beat the North Carolina Central University Eagles in the season opening game Saturday. The final score was 81-69.
“First half we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “But I think as we go through the year, you’ll see more and more of the shooting I know we can do. They paced the game, and then we paced the game at the end, and this is just the start. This team will be judged on how they progress, not the start.”
The first half featured a slow start that developed into a physical contest. The Eagles matched up well with the Thundering Herd, playing a game on close to equal footing. The largest lead for either team was six points, and most of the first half was within one possession of being tied.
Stevie Browning was the stand out for the Thundering Herd in the first half, scoring 10 points and collecting five rebounds, along with one assist.
Patrick Cole led the way for NCCU. Cole scored 13 in the opening half, with four rebounds.
A deep difference between the teams could be seen in field goal percentage. Marshall made shots roughly 40 percent of the time, while NCCU was exactly at 1/3. While it only transitioned into a three-point Thundering Herd lead, it boded well for Marshall.
Marshall started the second half with excellent shooting. The Thundering Herd quickly extended the three-point lead into a double digit lead. This was in part due to the entire team improving their shooting, but namely Terrance Thompson taking control of the game on the offensive end.
Thompson scored 12 in the second half, and 20 for the game. Thompson also grabbed 10 rebounds, making today’s game his first career double-double.
“I think I just played my role and did what I was supposed to do,” Thompson said. “It’s always great playing against a team from my home city, but I’m just glad we got the win.”
“Terrance played phenomenal,” Jon Elmore said. “What he brought to the table tonight is what we need out of him every night, and I’m really optimistic going forward.”
NCCU cut Marshall’s lead to three, but the MEAC school just could not seem to catch the Thundering Herd. The game had a total of seven lead changes and nine times the score was tied, but none in the second half as Marshall enjoyed a 12-point victory to start the season.
“We have to be better, and we have to coach better,” NCCU head coach LeVelle Moton said. “We got fatigued a little and we threw a live ball turnover, and then another. They’re too good of a basketball team to give extra possessions.”
The next Thundering Herd men’s basketball is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff Wednesday night at the Cam Henderson center against Morehead State.
Joseph Ashley can be contacted at [email protected]