Herd seniors victorious in final home game

Marshall improves record to 11-18 with 79-63 win over FAU

Senior men’s basketball players, cheerleaders, and dance team members were honored Saturday prior to the final home game of the season. The Thundering Herd beat the Florida Atlantic University Owls 79-63.

Marshall University’s men’s basketball team matched its win total from last season Saturday with a victory against Florida Atlantic University, 79-63, in the last home game of the 2014-2015 season.

Seniors JP Kambola, Cheikh Sane and Shawn Smith were honored before tip off, and the Thundering Herd parlayed that emotional high into a 12-0 run out of the gate. The Owls fought back, however, and took the lead before halftime.

Sophomore forward Ryan Taylor tallied just 8 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but the play of Kambola and junior guard Justin Edmonds kept the team afloat without its leading scorer.

“I knew that one stretch when Ryan was out of the game that we had to find a way to get over the hump until he comes back,” Kambola said. “I started taking it more to the basket and tried to make sure I finished it around the rim.”

Edmonds and Kambola both racked up career-highs in points with 27 and 16 respectively.

“I knew when Ryan got in foul trouble that we had to pick it up and be more aggressive because he is one of our leading scorers,” Edmonds said. “I just played off of my teammates.”

The Herd regained the lead at the 14:37 mark in the second half when Taylor found his groove and the Owls did not retake possession of it again in the game. Taylor finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth straight game with a double-double.

“I got my jump shot falling early so that kind of helped,” Taylor said. “Then, when they went small, I knew I was bigger than them in the post so I went and worked down there.”

Marshall has now won its last six home games, and the fan base has showed its appreciation with rising attendance numbers since the beginning of the streak. Sane said the players and the coaching staff are doing a lot more this season to bring supporters to the game. 

“This year is different. We have coach (Dan) D’Antoni doing a lot of stuff in the community and going around campus telling the students to come to the game,” Sane said. “We’re thankful for the fans.”

This victory marks the seventh in-conference for the Herd, which is the most since the 2011-2012 season. Head coach Dan D’Antoni said he is kind of surprised the team has come so far so soon.

“For a sophomore who changed from catch and finish to a point forward, a Serbian point guard, (DeVince Boykins) and (Tamron Manning) who were two adjunct guards having to play point,  (Austin Loop) who is a walk on and two guys who haven’t played for two years,” D’Antoni said. “You have to give those guys credit.”

Marshall climbed to 11-18 (7-9) with the win and FAU dropped to 8-19 (1-15) with the loss. The Herd closes out the regular season with a two-game road trip against Old Dominion University and University of North Carolina at Charlotte next weekend.

Adam Polsky can be contacted at [email protected]