Marshall dumps cold-shooting VMI

The Marshall Thundering Herd placed five players in double figures, led by double-doubles from Nigel Spikes and DeAndre Kane, en route to a 98-70 win over the VMI Keydets in non-conference men’s basketball action Sunday afternoon in Huntington, W. Va.

Marshall captured its fifth straight win and moved to 8-2 while the Keydets fell to 7-5.

VMI forward Stan Okoye’s 24-point,15 rebound outing was his seventh double-double of the year and fifteenth of his still young collegiate career. The sophomore has also registered a double-double in three consecutive games.

Junior forward Michael Sparks added 16 points and hit four three-pointers for the Keydets while senior guard Austin Kenon added 12 second half points after going scoreless in the first half in part to foul trouble that limited his playing time to eight minutes before intermission.

Marshall dominated the boards with a 55-30 count including 17 on the offensive glass. The Herd shot an impressive 76.7 percent in the first half missing just 8 of 30 shots from the floor and finished the game at 58.7 percent. The hosts opened the game hitting 13 of their first 15 shot attempts.

The Herd was paced in scoring by guard Shaquille Johnson with 19 points. Backcourt mate Kane added 18 points after nailing four-of-five three pointers in the first half while dishing out 11 assists. Kane finished the contest with 13 assists. Spikes scored 13 points and gathered 12 rebounds.

For the first time in a game this season, VMI trailed the entire contest throughout regulation. The game was knoted at 2-2 after junior Keith Gabriel hit a layup 1:45 after tip-off, but a Spikes dunk on the ensuing Marshall possession put the Herd up for the remainder of the afternoon.

The Herd pushed the lead to double-digits at the 13:09 mark on a Kane 3-pointer, then assumed its biggest lead of the opening half at the midway point when Spikes dunked at the 9:20 mark to make it 35-20. VMI rallied with a 13-4 spurt that was started with a Gabriel layup at the 7:53 mark and followed with six straight points from Okoye, who also capped the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull VMI within 37-33 with 5:06 remaining in the half.

It would be as close as VMI would get as Marshall countered with a 19-7 run the remainder of the half and took a 56-40 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Keydets were unable to mount a sustained rally in the second half and were hampered by 8-of-36 shooting (22 percent) in the second half. The Herd gradually cushioned its margin, holding at least 20-point lead over the last 5:21 of regulation and once led by 30 points late in the game.

VMI, which came into the game leading the nation in 3-pointers made per game (11.2), connected on just seven-of-31 from long range.

The teams were meeting for the first time since the 1996-97 season when both schools were members of the Southern Conference.



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