Marshall men’s basketball defeats Southern Miss, 72-58

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Marshall men’s basketball was back at home and defeated University of Southern Mississippi with a final score of 72-58. Redshirt sophomore Iran Bennett finishing with a double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds. Coming off the road after two away games in Florida, the Herd made a comeback improving to an 11-13 record (5-6 Conference USA) of the season, while the Eagles dropped to 7-17 (3-8 C-USA).

“We played, at best I guess you can call it, erratically,” Marshall Head Coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We had these long periods where we played really well. We get a 12-point lead and then we come down. The players are not erratic in their efforts, they give you 110%.”

Followed by Bennett was sophomore Taevion Kinsey with 16 points, six assists and three steals. Junior Jarrod West had 14 points and freshman Marko Sarenac scored 12 points.

“I feel like it was really clicking out there,” Bennett said. “We did not want to lose, and we sat down and focused and made shots in the end.”

In the first half, the Herd was down the first four minutes of the game. West posted the first shot on the scoreboard with a three-pointer. Kinsey made a layup which lead Marshall with the score 9-8. Bennett had one dunk, two layups and two tip-ins in the first half.

The Herd kept the same momentum, ending the first half with a six-point lead on Southern Miss, 35-29. Kinsey with 11 points, followed by Bennett and West with 8 points each and Mikel Beyers with six points.

In the second half, West started off strong with a three-pointer. Southern Miss tied the game with a free throw by redshirt senior Leonard Harper-Baker, 44-44. The Eagles gained the lead at 13:25 when Harper-Baker made a three-pointer, 47-44. The game was neck-and-neck until Sarenac made four three-pointers in a row for the Herd. Bennett posted three layups and one dunk, ending the game 72-58 for a Herd victory.

D’Antoni compared Sarenac’s game to that of a horse.

“You get out away from the bar one time and the horse wants to go back to the barn,” D’Antoni said. “And you ain’t stopping it when its headed that way.”

Marshall went 28-for-70 (40%) from the field and 10-for-35 (28.6%) from the three-point line while Southern Miss went 24-for-57 (42.1%) from the field and 4-for-11 (36.4%) from the three-point line. The Herd went 6-for-10 (60.0%) from the free throw line, and the Eagles went 6-for-7 (85.7%).

“We have to give a really big shoutout to Marko,” Kinsey said. “He came in there and was hitting big shots. He came alive and brought us back.”

The Thundering Herd will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Cam Henderson Center against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.

Stormy Randazzo can be contacted at [email protected].