HUNTINGTON, W.Va.--It was nothing less than a dominating performance by Marshall Thursday night at the Cam Henderson Center, with four players finishing in double-figures in a 90-67 win over Florida Atlantic.
Marshall (6-9, 2-0) moved to 2-0 in Conference USA play for the first time since 2011-12 (UTEP and Rice) and scored 90+ points in back-to-back league games for the first time since doing so on March 1 and 4, 2002. Marshall defeated Akron 104-87 and Northern Illinois 97-93 as a member of the Mid-American Conference.
"It's good that we held the first two games here," Marshall head coach Dan D'Antoni said. "It's not time to celebrate it, but it is time to enjoy it. It's a long season. We need to come back Saturday against a team (FIU) that beat this team last season. They'll put another test to us, so we need all Herd fans to come out and be a part of this."
Ryan Taylor lead the Herd with 21 points and 15 rebounds and James Kelly added 18 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in only 20 minutes of action. It was Kelly's league-leading seventh double-double of the season.
Marshall used D'Antoni's system of "Organized Chaos" in the contest, shooting 47.3 percent from the field while limiting FAU(2-13, 0-2) to 37.5 percent. The Herd jacked up 74 shots from the field, 40 coming in the second half, and scored over half of its total points in the paint.
"We scored 48 points in the paint and did not post up once," D'Antoni said. "We have a different way of scoring at the basket. We face the basket and attack it. Lobs are starting to become a big part of our game, which energizes our team and crowd, and it deflates the opponent."
The Herd hammered home seven dunks in the contest, six coming from Kelly. Marshall nearly missed number eight on the first play of the game when an alley-oop from Jon Elmore to Stevie Browning sailed off the mark. Browning made the adjustment to dump in the layup for a 2-0 Herd lead.
Marshall would never trail in the game, leading for 39:13 of the contest.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Elmore and Austin Loop gave Marshall a 12-6 edge with 14:45 left in the first. Kelly pushed the Herd's lead to nine after hammering home his third dunk of the game, but was forced to the bench with 13:14 left in the half after picking up his second foul.
D'Antoni turned to Terrance Thompson for a spark off the bench and the sophomore transfer delivered. Thompson streaked to the basket off a Browning fast-break pass and converted the layup into a 3-point play by drawing the foul and a 16-point Herd lead.
"My role on this team is to rebound and have high energy," Thompson said. "With the past few games, I've been getting more minutes and with those minutes I've been contributing by rebounding and stepped up when coach called my name and it worked out for the whole team."
The Owls trimmed the deficit to 10 with 4:41 left in the half on a Jeantal Cylla triple, but Marshall would close on a 10-4 run sparked by back-to-back Browning and Elmore threes and a Thompson layup for a 42-26 lead a the break.
Thompson finished the half with five points and a team-high seven rebounds in only nine minutes of action.
Marshall's lead quickly ballooned to 25 less than four minutes into the half after a Taylor layup made it 58-33.
Adonis Filer single handedly attempted to erase the deficit to the Herd by hitting three consecutive layups late in the half, only to have Taylor and Kelly soar to the rim for back-to-back Top-10 worthy dunks.
Taylor began the surge with a powerful move to the rim off the baseline. With a lane to the basket, Taylor elevated from outside the block and attacked the rim over Owls' big man Ronald Delph. Taylor's thunderous dunk was followed by another Kelly jam, sparking a 10-0 Herd run.
"We were just getting good ball movement and I knew I could attack them off the dribble and that's what I was doing," Taylor said. "We ran a few set plays, but other than that, we were just trying to get in transition. We shot well from the free throw line too, so just getting in transition, getting fouls, making our foul shots; that was pretty much it really."
Kelly pushed the lead back to 21 with another alley-oop from Browning, bringing the 4,577 in attendance to their feet.
"Really, we get them [lobs] a lot because of the way Coach Danny teaches us," Browning said. "You come off and if the big helps, you've got a chance to throw it at the rim. The crowd really feeds off that. It was a good crowd tonight and we hope to see a really big one Saturday."
Filer cut the lead to 19 points with 3:14 to go, but a Justin Edmonds triple made it 85-63 seven seconds later.
Browning tied a career-high with 18 points while adding seven rebounds and six assists. Elmore added 12 and Thompson had seven points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Filer led the Owls with 17 points, all in the second half. Delph had nine points and 11 rebounds.
Marshall welcomes FIU Saturday evening while FAU travels to battle WKU in Bowling Green.