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No. 20 West Virginia Upends Marshall 86-68 in the Capital Classic

WVU powerful post play mixed with daunting in your face pressure led the Mountaineers to an easy win over the Herd in Charleston.

WVU's Jevon Carter (2) drives past Marshall's James Kelly (24)
WVU's Jevon Carter (2) drives past Marshall's James Kelly (24)
Falecia Collier/Collier Photography

CHARLESTON, W.Va.--No. 20 West Virginia (9-1) used a balanced scoring attack and a dominant presence in the paint en route to an 86-68 win over Marshall (3-7) in the 44th annual Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic.

Jevon Carter led the Mountaineers with 15 points and Daxter Miles Jr. added 14 to push WVU past Marshall.

WVU led by only three at the half, but held Marshall to 25.9 percent from the field and 0-of-13 from behind the arc in the second half, leading to the lopsided affair. The Mountaineers' dominance on the glass led to 25 second-chance points and major foul trouble for the Herd.

"They were the much better team tonight," Marshall head coach Dan D'Antoni said.

While WVU was the better team, it found itself in a dogfight with the Herd in the first 20 minutes of action.

Marshall opened on an 8-2 run after a Ryan Taylor layup and back-to-back Austin Loop triples set the offensive tone for the Herd. WVU answered with a 10-3 run of its own, grabbing its first lead of the game at 12-11 with 14:58 left in the half.

The Mountaineers pushed its lead to 20-14 with 12:49 remaining in the first, then found itself looking to the bench for production after leading scorer Devin Williams picked up his second foul with 12 minutes to go in the half.

The Herd capitalized on the absence of the Mountaineer big man, using a 12-1 run capped off by an Aleksandar Dozic three-pointer for a 26-21 lead with 7:37 left in the half.

Ellijah Macon lifted the Mountaineers off the bench, dumping in eight points and three rebounds in only 12 minutes as WVU went back on top 28-26.

Trailing 33-30 with 90 seconds remaining, Stevie Browning electrified the 11,748 in attendance with a powerful dunk off a Jon Elmore alley-oop, trimming the Herd's deficit to 33-32. Although WVU failed to connect on a field goal in the final 92 seconds, two Carter free throws closed out the half and a 35-32 Mountaineers lead at the break.

WVU limited Marshall to only 13 total rebounds at the half while collecting 22 of its own, 12 on the offensive glass while converting into 13 second-chance points.

"Obviously, the second chance points just beat us up," D'Antoni said. "It wore us down, really. That was the worst part because it looks like we got tired from trying to keep them off the boards."

Marshall looked poised to make a run to open the second half after a pair of free throws by Taylor and Elmore gave the Herd a 36-35 lead.

Then the wheels, aka legs, fell off for the Herd amidst an 18-3 run for the Mountaineers. Marshall connected only once out of 14 tries during the scoring drought.

In a span of less than two minutes, James Kelly went down with a bum knee, Elmore fell to the court with cramps in only his second game with the Herd after becoming eligible from his VMI transfer and Taylor collected his third personal foul, forcing D'Antoni into playing an unorthodox lineup. WVU took full advantage of the mismatches resulting from Taylor and Kelly missing from the floor as Williams flexed his muscle in the paint to push the WVU lead to as many as 14 midway through the half.

"They started cramping and we were only 2 minutes in the second half," Williams said. "That's what our press is there for, to wear them down. I didn't expect them to be worn down 2 minutes into the second half, but hey, they were and we capitalized."

When the dust settled, Marshall saw a three-point deficit balloon to as many as 23 before the final buzzer sounded. The Herd's poor shooting combined with 11 second-half turnovers, provided the recipe for defeat, snapping its three-game winning streak.

"I think we sped them up," Carter said. "They started missing shots, they started getting tired and people were cramping. I just think they weren't used to our style."

Taylor led the Herd with 15 points and six rebounds while scoring his 1,000th career point with 7:32 left in the contest. Elmore added a career-high 14 points and Kelly had 11.

Marshall heads to Las Vegas, Nevada for the final two games of the Global Sports Classic Dec. 21 and 22 with matchups with Wyoming and either Houston or Grand Canyon scheduled.