HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Junior forward Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis) led Marshall men’s basketball (3-6) to its third consecutive victory with a career-high 27 points as the Thundering Herd defeated North Carolina Central (3-6, 1-1 MEAC), 92-73, on Monday night at Cam Henderson Center.
The contest was played as part of the Global Sports Classic, an eight-team event that concludes with games in Las Vegas Dec. 21-22.
Marshall shot a season-best 54.4 percent from the floor (37-of-68) and turned the ball over just nine times. Taylor converted 10-of-12 from the field and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line with three rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
Joining Taylor in double-figure scoring was junior Austin Loop (South Webster, Ohio) with 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field, 6-of-12 from behind the arc. Reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Week C.J. Burks (Martinsburg, W.Va.) came off the bench to score 12 points, and senior forward James Kelly (Ann Arbor, Mich.) recorded his third double-double in four games with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Also of note: sophomore guard Jon Elmore (Charleston, W.Va.) made his debut for the Herd, starting at point guard. He played 18 minutes and had five points, three assists and two rebounds.
Both teams started off hitting shots from the outside. Loop continued his hot hand from Saturday’s win over Eastern Kentucky (Dec. 12) by hitting four 3-pointers in the first half and reaching double figures for the third consecutive game.
With just under nine minutes remaining in the first half, Burks drained two quick baskets to give Marshall its largest lead up to that point, 26-22.The Herd traded short runs with the Eagles throughout the first half. Marshall held the half’s largest lead of five points right at the end of the period, 46-41.
It was the third consecutive game that the Herd had scored more than 40 points in the first half. Taylor and Kelly dominated the paint as they combined for 21 first half points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Marshall came out of the locker room in command, immediately going on a 10-4 run to build the lead to double digits. From the 12:36 mark in the second half, the Herd did not surrender a double-digit lead and built it to as many as 23 with 2:11 remaining (90-67). Two free throws from the Eagles’ Dante Holmes finalized the score at 92-73 in the Herd’s favor.