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Marshall Torches the Nets in a 96-72 Drubbing of Eastern Kentucky

James Kelly and Austin Loop turned in career scoring performances for the Herd as four players finished in double-figures in the win.

James Kelly (24) hammers home a dunk versus EKU.
James Kelly (24) hammers home a dunk versus EKU.
Falecia Collier/Collier Photography

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.--Blistering hot shooting and two career scoring performances paced Marshall basketball to its second win of the season with a 96-72 beat down of Eastern Kentucky University Saturday night at the Cam Henderson Center.

James Kelly scored a career-high 27 points while grabbing nine rebounds and Austin Loop added 26, matching his previous best, while shooting 80 percent (8-of-10) from behind the arc.

Marshall shot 51 percent as a team (35-of-69) from the field and 47 percent (15-of-32) from long-range, as it lit up the scoreboard the entire evening. The Herd's 96 points were the most against a Division I opponent since dropping 96 on UNC Wilmington Nov. 23, 2013.

"Obviously we shot the ball better, and when you do that, it's funny how your defense picks up," Marshall head coach Dan D'Antoni said. "We held one of the highest percentage teams in the country to 42 percent in the second half. When you're making shots, it flows to the other side."

Ryan Taylor collected his 23rd double-double of his career; his second this season, with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Stevie Browning added seven points while grabbing a career-high 12 boards in the winning effort.

EKU (7-4) opened the contest with all the momentum, as Nick Mayo and Jarelle Reischel led the Colonels to a 19-10 lead with 14:02 left in the first half.

Kelly sparked Marshall's first charge in the contest with back-to-back dunks, added with a Loop triple to trim the contest to only one.  EKU pushed the lead back to four at 27-23, only to see its lead disappear from the hot shooting of Loop.

Trailing 29-28 with 8:20 left in the half, Loop buried his second of a career-high eight three pointers, and Marshall's first lead of the game, 31-29 with 8:01 before the break.

"All of us, the way we shoot the ball, I think that's the way coach wants us to play, at the speed we want to play" Loop said. "When we get shots we're tough to beat."

Reischel knotted the contest for the fourth time at 36 on a three pointer with 3:41 in the half, but the Herd closed on a 12-2 run, nine points coming from three Loop threes, and a 48-38 lead at the half. Marshall never trailed the remainder of the game.

Marshall opened the second half on an 8-0 run after Browning hit from long-distance followed by a Loop field goal and a three-point play by Kelly.


While EKU continued to search for answers to Marshall's offensive production, the Herd used great ball movement to push the lead to 21 on a C.J. Burks triple with 17:05 left.

Marshall pushed the lead to 22 on another Kelly dunk midway through the half, and put the final nail in the coffin with 5:32 remaining after a Burks steal gave Kelly another layup and the Herd a 26-point advantage.

Jacob Kilgore gave the Herd its largest lead, 27, after sinking a free throw with 1:18 left in the game.

Marshall held EKU scoreless on second-chance points while scoring 21 of its own. For the second consecutive game, Marshall collected over 40 rebounds (44) while holding its opponent to 30 or less (30). Marshall added 24 assists on 35 made baskets in the win.

"Ball movement was zipping," D'Antoni said. "It's pretty; it's a great game. 24 assists to 35 buckets is a great matchup, players shoot better when the ball is moving like that."

EKU has failed to beat Marshall in its last four meetings dating back to 1977 and hasn't won in Huntington since 1965.

Marshall welcomes North Carolina Central to Huntington Monday evening in the second game of the Global Sports Classic. The Herd picked up its first win of the season with an 82-76 win over Eastern Illinois in the opening game of the GSC.