The Thundering Herd scored a three by Shaquille Johnson with 2:52 left in the eleventh lead change of the game, going up 49-48 with 2:52 to play. But that would be the Herd's last field goal of the game, plus Johnson hitting two free throws, as Marshall turned the ball over twice, fouled Tulane twice and missed two threes in the final moments.
"We've got to make plays," said MU head coach Donnie Jones, "and our team didn't make plays down the stretch. We put ourselves into a situation on the road where you want to be with an opportunity to score. We called a time out, but we don't execute on the play and we turned the ball over. We had three or four turnovers down the stretch. Give Tulane credit, they came in and out-scrapped us."
The Herd led 23-22 at the half, scoring 11 points on 11 Tulane turnovers. Chris Lutz was 4-for-8 in the first half, including 2-of-4 from three, and led the Herd with 10 points at the break. MU led despite not getting to the line while the Green Wave was 4-of-5 at the stripe.
Free throw shooting was key, as Kevin Sims led Tulane with 19 points and hitting 11-of-11 at the free throw line. Tulane was 14-of-18 from the line, while the Herd only got there for 6-of-8 at the line. But 5-of-17 from three for Marshall told the story. In the second half, Lutz was 0-for-3 behind the arc and scored four more points for 14 in the game. Johnson was 2-of-2 in the second half but the team was just 2-of-7 from three in the second half.
"It was one of those games where we knew it would be a half-court battle," said Jones. That is Tulane's style, but it should have also played to Marshall after a very fast pace in the win over Houston. "I thought our kids played tired tonight, but that's no excuse. We have to fight through that. We turned the ball over in crucial stretches, we get our hands on balls but don't get the rebounds when it counted and we have to carry our energy on the road."
Marshall took 12 more shots than Tulane, 20-of-50 (40 percent), but the Green Wave hit one more field goal, 21-of-38 (55.3 percent). Marshall is allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent from the floor this season, a constant problem for the team that possibly the year with a reoccurring shoulder injury as well at Tyler Wilkerson, out for the season with a broken jaw. MU also lost 6-foot-10 Marcus Goode when he went home for personal reasons.
Markel Humphrey led the Herd despite limping with pain in both feet. The senior was 8-of-9 from the field and scored 16 points. Johnson finished with 13 points, Lutz with 14 and Tirrell Baines had six points and led all players with nine rebounds. "There's no question, Markel Humphrey is a warrior," said Jones of his senior forward. "We had opportunities and our guys have to recognize (those) and get him the ball more. We were running stuff for him, and he was open but didn't get the ball."
For Tulane, besides Sims, Kris Richard and Robinson Louisme each scored ten, and Louisme led Tulane with six rebounds. TU out-rebounded the smaller Herd, 30-22, and out-scored MU by the same total in the paint.
Marshall will fly US Airways back to Huntington on Sunday, then get a chartered jet to go to East Carolina on Tuesday. The Pirates and the Herd will tip at Minges Coliseum at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Marshall will then return home for two home games, and next Saturday is a double-header with the MU women. Feb. 28 will see the women play Rice at 3 p.m.
That game will be Senior Day for the women, and all former Marshall "Green Gals" or "Lady Herd" members are being asked to return for that game. The men will face UCF at 7 p.m., and the Knights beat the Herd in Orlando, 87-69, back on Jan. 25. The men wrap up the home schedule with Rice on Wednesday, March 4, with the Rice Owls. It will be Senior Night, and at least Markel Humphrey will be honored. Daryl Merthie is in his fourth year, but earned his prop freshman year back. Adam Williams is a junior, but is ready to graduate and is looking to work as a GA next season for the Herd or another team if no spot is available at MU.