Herd men’s basketball falls to Blue Raiders, 83-74

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Marshall University men’s basketball lost to Middle Tennessee State 83-74 Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

With the loss, Marshall drops to 11-5 in conference play and 15-14 overall. The Herd is currently in a three-way tie for second in the conference standings with Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech University.

Senior forward James Kelly led the team with 21 points and 14 rebounds to record his 13th double-double of the season.

Sophomore guard Jon Elmore also chipped in 18 points on 5-12 shooting. Forward Ryan Taylor rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Herd, scoring 12 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 4:38 remaining.

Taylor’s fifth foul came at a crucial point in the game, however, as Marshall had just cut the deficit to two points following a layup from guard C.J. Burks. Immediately after Taylor left the game, Middle Tennessee State went on an 8-0 run over the next three minutes to increase its lead to 77-67. Marshall never got closer than six points over the final two minutes.

For much of the second half, however, the Herd managed to flip the script after falling behind in the first half. Marshall faced a 6-10-point deficit for much of the opening half, but Middle Tennessee closed the half on a 12-2 run over the final 3:30 to take a 49-34 lead into intermission.

The Blue Raiders shot 57.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3-point range in first 20 minutes compared to 48.1 and 25 percent splits for the Herd.

In the second half, Marshall made the contest more competitive through its defensive performance as Middle Tennessee State converted on just nine of its 24 shot attempts.

The majority of the deficit was erased quickly as the Herd used a 15-0 run over the course of a five-minute stretch to tie the game at 56 with 11:59 remaining. Marshall eventually pushed in front 61-59 for its first lead of the game after a 3-pointer by Kelly with 8:23 to play. Middle Tennessee quickly took the lead back less than two minutes later, and the Herd never got closer to reestablishing control than the two-point deficit it faced when Taylor fouled out.

In the victory, which moved the Blue Raiders into a tie for second in the conference standings with two games remaining, guard Perrin Buford led the team and tied Kelly for the game-high mark with 21 points going 8-12 from the field. Buford also added five rebounds and four assists.

Darnell Harris served as complimentary scorer for Middle Tennessee scoring 18 points on just eight shot attempts. Harris went 4-4 on 3s and 4-6 from the free throw line.

Reggie Upshaw and Aldonis Foote posted double-digit outings as well with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

After dropping two road games last week against conference-leading University of Alabama at Birmingham and Middle Tennessee State, Marshall will face another tough test 7 p.m. Thursday when it takes on Louisiana Tech at the Cam Henderson Center. 

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