Men’s basketball rides defense to defeat West Virginia Wesleyan


Rick Farlow

Marshall senior guard Rondale Watson elevates through WV Wesleyan defenders for a finger roll layup. Watson scores nine points with five rebounds and two assists in the contest.

The Marshall men’s basketball team defeated West Virginia Wesleyan 83-65 Thursday at the Cam Henderson Center in its final exhibition game of the season.

“I thought the energy all around was a lot better,” senior guard Jon Elmore said. “We gave up about half as many points as we gave up last game. I think we got better and that was our goal with these two games—to see where we stood and see what we need to improve on.”

Marshall’s shooting struggles continued Thursday. In the first half, the Herd shot 18-of-39 (46 percent) from the field and 1-of-19 from three-point range. Overall, Marshall shot 46.6 percent from the field and 15.2 percent from beyond the arc.

“I think we were 1-for-19 at half,” Elmore said. “The way we play, that’s not usually what we do.”

While the three-point shots didn’t fall for Marshall, the Herd’s press-style defense prevailed and forced 24 Wesleyan turnovers. Marshall scored 23 points off turnovers. Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said the Herd plays good defense.

“We’ve got a team that can press, so we got a lot more variety of style of play,” D’Antoni said. We can go big if they are beating us up inside with a post guy, we’ve got a guy that can get up in there and bang around a little bit.”

Leading 39-26 at halftime, Marshall’s shooting slightly improved in the second half and the Herd cushioned its lead.

D’Antoni reflected on how having a deeper bench will help the Herd’s upcoming season.

“We do have a deeper bench,” D’Antoni said. “I am going to have to coach myself to be a better coach and use it at the right times. They give us a lot more variety than we have had here.”

Senior guard C.J. Burks and freshman guard Taevion Kinsey led the team in scoring with 10 points each. Elmore, senior guard Rondale Watson, and sophomore forward Mikel Beyers all followed with nine.

Elmore had nine assists and freshman forward Cam Brooks-Harris ended the night with seven rebounds.

The Herd will travel to Richmond, Kentucky, next week and begin its regular season schedule against Eastern Kentucky. Tipoff is Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.

“Now it’s time for the real stuff,”  D’Antoni said. “The first games are always hard, especially on the road. We just have to go and see if we can’t get a win.”

Sydney Shelton can be contacted at [email protected]