(Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

For the fifth season in a row, WVU beat Marshall in the in-state rivalry game. The Mountaineers used a strong second-half defense and a huge advantage on the boards to bring home the victory 86-68. They are now off to a 9-1 start for the second straight year.

When the Herd and the Mountaineers hit the locker room at halftime Thursday Night, the score on the board was very unexpected for most. WVU’s lead at the half was only three points, 35-32. The Herd opened up the game with an 8-2 lead and came out very hot from behind the three-point line. In fact, much of Marshall’s success came from the outstanding shooting performance they had during the first 20 minutes. The Herd was 43.5% from the field and led the Mountaineers in points off turnovers 11 to 8. The worst part of the first half was probably their last possession, where they had the chance to tie the game but didn’t even get a shot off.

The second half wouldn’t be as fortunate for the Thundering Herd. Devin Williams was able to come back into the game after sitting most of the first half with two fouls, and his presence was noticed. The offensive rebounding the Mountaineers had in the second half was truly amazing. WVU won the rebound battle by a whopping margin of 48-32. No matter who Marshall Coach Dan D’Antoni subbed in, it couldn’t be stopped. Nathan Adrian and Devin Williams were just too much for the Herd. The Mountaineers blew the game open early in the second half with a 16-1 run. It was pretty much all said and done after that. Their defense went into lock-down mode and forced turnover after turnover and missed shot after missed shot. Marshall’s second half shooting percentage brought their game total all the way down to 34%, while the Mountaineers stayed comfortably at 46%.

Remember those key points I talked about? Let’s have a look at how they impacted the game.

Austin Loop (and the rest of the Herd’s three-point shooters) – Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Loop went the entire second half without making a single shot. This really hurt the Herd. He had nine points off of three 3’s to lead Marshall in scoring, but the lack of scoring after that killed the momentum. He ended up 3-7 on the night and it just wasn’t enough. As a team the Herd finished 6-27 (22%) from three-point range. Compare that to a 15-32 performance against EKU and you’ll see the difference. Marshall won that game by 23.

#PressVirginia – In all honesty I thought Marshall handled the Mountaineers’ press defense for a majority of the first half. It was really the second half where things began to go downhill. As I said before, Marshall led the points off turnover margin at the half. WVU wasn’t really producing much from its press. As the game went on I think the Herd was worn down by it, and that was the downfall. D’Antoni didn’t have enough depth on his bench to keep fresh legs in the game, and that probably played a huge part in why shots didn’t fall in the second half. The press wore down the Herd’s “iron five.”

James Kelly vs. Devin Williams – It was clear who the winner of this battle was, but we had to wait until later in the game to see it. D’Antoni tried to cover Williams with multiple guys, but nobody could body him up enough to keep him off the glass. Williams played a small 17 minutes due to foul trouble, but still managed 9 points and 7 rebounds. Kelly was kept off of the boards offensively, as was the rest of the Herd. He had four total rebounds to go along with 11 points.

Free Throws – To my surprise, the Herd showed a lot of improvement from the free throw line. As a team Marshall finished 77% from behind the line, much greater than their 63% season average. A lot of them came from Ryan Taylor and Jon Elmore, who each went 11-14 and 11-12 respectively. The Mountaineers, on the other hand, only managed 57%, but were able to make a fair amount down the stretch to keep the margin wide enough.

Composure – I was very pleased that this year’s Capital Classic didn’t end with 20,000 technical fouls. In fact, there was only one, and I still don’t think the Herd’s C.J. Burks deserved that one. The ref was quick to the whistle on a play where Burks was upset that he got called for a reaching foul. Other than that, the players helped each other up and formally greeted each other before tip-off. Seems like Bob Huggins and D’Antoni preached the importance of composure this time around. The Mountaineers did manage to get in the Herd’s head, however, and much of Marshall’s bad shooting came from that. Once the gap was opened up to double-digits, players became frustrated and the shots just didn’t go down. Story of the loss for the Herd.

West Virginia was led by Guard Jevon Carter, who came out with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Dax Miles added 14 points and 5 steals to their total.

Marshall was led again by Ryan Taylor, who finished the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Elmore added 14 points off of his 11-12 free throw shooting.

West Virginia (9-1) and Marshall (3-7) will both play their next game on the 21st. The Mountaineers go to play Eastern Kentucky and the Herd will play Wyoming. Both teams will look to avoid a down game after all of the emotion that went into this one.

Marshall’s win streak comes to an end at three.

Casey covers Marshall Basketball for MFST. You can find him on twitter @wxmozz

https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/a-23.jpg?fit=650%2C418&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/a-23.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Casey MosrieAnalysisBasketballBig 12Conference USANCAABNews and UpdatesRecent PostsBig 12,big 12 basketball,conference usa,conference usa basketball,Marshall,marshall basketball,West Virginia,WVU,WVU basketballFor the fifth season in a row, WVU beat Marshall in the in-state rivalry game. The Mountaineers used a strong second-half defense and a huge advantage on the boards to bring home the victory 86-68. They are now off to a 9-1 start for the second straight year. When the Herd and...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?