HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Junior guard DeAndre Kane sank two clutch free throws with 21 seconds remaining in what would be the game-winning points in Marshall's 61-58 win over UNCW on Saturday at the Cam Henderson Center.
"It's a good way for us to learn to play against a team that is deliberate and patient," said head coach Tom Herrion. "And clearly, they put us in the grinder, and we found a way. It's a good win for us. We will take it for sure. We'll take it. A bad win is better than a good loss."
The Thundering Herd (5-3) trailed 58-57 with 1:20 remaining in the game. After a Kane turnover, the Herd still trailed by one with a minute left. UNCW (3-4) missed a layup, but got the rebound which forced Marshall to foul to regain possession of the ball. With just three fouls committed in the half, Marshall had to foul four more times to get into the bonus. After back-to-back fouls by D.D. Scarver, Jamir Hanner stole the inbounds pass with 27 seconds to play.
A foul by the Seahawks' Matt Wilson sent Kane to the free throw line, where he had been 3-of-7 in the game. After making both, putting the Herd ahead by one point, Kane's defensive pressure forced a turnover with four seconds to play. Two more free throws by D.D. Scarver gave Marshall a three-point cushion with about one second left.
"Really good players make really big plays," Herrion said of Kane. "He's made big free throws his whole life."
The Herd shot just 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the free throw line, but made them when the game was on the line going 6-for-8 in the final five minutes.
The game was close all night with UNCW leading no more than five points and Marshall no more than eight. There were 16 lead changes and nine ties, including the halftime score at 28-28.
Kane finished the game with a team-high 16 points and finished 5-of-9 from the free throw line. He also added five assists, four rebounds, four steals and just two turnovers.
Senior center Nigel Spikes recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds including a career-high nine offensive boards.
Scarver scored in double-figures for the fifth straight game with 12. He was 2-of-6 from three point range, both coming in the first five minutes of the game.
Junior forward Elijah Pittman went an efficient 4-for-5 from the field and finished with 13 points and five rebounds.
UNCW, which shot 58.3 percent from the field in the second half, finished the game at 46.4 percent. Marshall shot 30.8 percent in the second half and 36.4 percent for the contest.
Bluefield native Craig Ponder led the Seahawks with a game-high 26 points by going 11-of-16 from the field including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
"He played out of his mind," Herrion said. "He was terrific. He was one of the best guys on the floor. We didn't do a good job with him."
Marshall will next be in action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when it faces West Virginia in the annual Capital Classic in Charleston.