Marshall holds off UTC men's basketball team, 70-66

Marshall holds off UTC men's basketball team, 70-66

December 6th, 2017 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — "Too many turnovers."

That was one of Lamont Paris's final assessments of his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball team's 70-66 loss Tuesday at Marshall, a game neither team ever led by more than nine points.

Now 4-5 for the season, the Mocs will be at home Sunday to face another Conference USA opponent, Charlotte, in the first game of a doubleheader at McKenzie Arena. The UTC women will face Virginia Tech in the second game.

"We lost a hard road game to a good team," Paris said. "We did a lot of right things to be right where we are, but we turned the ball over way too many times. It came down to a couple of specific plays, and we did enough right things to be where we were, and there'll be a lot of games like this, probably.

"We've got to continue to get better at finding ways to finish them — make plays here and there."

Makinde London set career highs with 25 points and 18 rebounds and blocked two shots for his fourth multi-block game of the season. Nat Dixon scored 13 points while Makale Foreman added 10.

The Mocs had 19 turnovers, 12 in the second half. They also struggled shooting, making 36 percent for the game and 31 percent in the second half as the Thundering Herd used a 16-1 run to start the half and build a nine-point lead. During that run, the Mocs had six turnovers and missed their first 10 shots.

"We had a couple of mistakes there that cost us — a lot of turnovers," Dixon said. "We just have to get back to the drawing board; we have to take care of the ball better."

The Marshall lead remained at nine with 8:32 remaining, but again the Mocs chipped away. They slipped in front 62-60 on a 3-pointer by Foreman with 2:45 remaining.

C.J. Burks, who led Marshall with 23 points, responded with three consecutive baskets, but a London post-up trimmed Marshall's margin to 67-66.

The Mocs were forced to foul, and Jon Elmore went to the line, missing the second of two free throws. London grabbed the rebound and heaved a half-court 3-pointer with three seconds to play that hit off the side of the backboard, and after a UTC foul, Jannson Williams hit two free throws for the final margin.

"I knew we had a couple of seconds, and I had it in my head that we'd get one (miss)," London said of the final sequence. "I've just got to grow up. I had looked at the clock and seen 7.7 (seconds), so I knew how much time was left.

"It was just immaturity. I've got to grow up."

Still, London's game was the first 20-10 game by a Moc since Justin Tuoyo had 24 points and 10 rebounds against Arkansas State on Nov. 20 of last season.

"I knew it would be a big win if we got it," he said. "My teammates did a good job of fighting, putting in the effort and getting us to the point where we did have the opportunity we did. Just knowing the circumstances and knowing our capability, I just tried to take a more focused mindset going into this."

For Marshall, which entered the game averaging 91.2 points per game, Tuesday's point total was a season low, eclipsing the 74 points the Herd had against Illinois on Nov. 19. The Herd also had season season lows in 3-pointers (1-of-16) and assists (seven), and the Mocs outrebounded them 44-32.

Elmore added 22 points, while Ajdin Penava had 10 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and three steals.

"They're a good team," Paris said. "They went on runs and you feel a run when you turn the ball over, you feel a run when you don't rebound and you don't score around the basket. We missed shots around the basket that were makeable, and we turned the ball over and they capitalized.

"If we make one play — if Makinde makes that half-court shot — we're having a completely different interview, but it didn't and we didn't, and that's what it is.

"I evaluate the game for the body of it, and overall we did pretty good, but we had too many turnovers and we've got to get better at that."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.