Jan. 7, 2012
HOUSTON - Marshall's Shaquille Johnson drove baseline for a layup with two seconds to play and give the Thundering Herd a 63-61 win over Rice Saturday in Tudor Fieldhouse.
Marshall, one of the preseason favorites to win Conference USA, improved to 11-4 and 2-0 while Rice opened conference play falling to 9-7 overall. The Owls are now on the road for back-to-back league games playing Wednesday at SMU and Saturday at Tulane.
Rice's last lead against the Herd would come with 5:37 to play when Lucas Kuipers drained a three-pointer to put the Owls out in front 59-56.
Damier Pitts cut the Owls' lead to 59-58 with a jumper at the 4:33 mark. And after a missed Rice three-point field goal attempt, Johnson connected on a three to give the Thundering Herd a two-point lead.
After Kuipers made three with more than five minutes to play, Rice missed its final six field goal attempts including five three-point tries.
Rice center Omar Oraby did tie the score at 61-61, making two free throws with 2:17 to play. Oraby led Rice with 16 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of the season. He also tied a Rice record, blocking six shots.
The Owls also defended well down the stretch.
Marshall would miss shots from the floor its next two times down the floor following Oraby's free throws. The second attempt, a jumper by DeAndre Kane, was blocked by Arsalan Kazemi and rebounded by Tamir Jackson.
Jackson would miss a jumper following a Rice timeout but the Owls' got another defensive stop when Dylan Ennis forced Pitts to turn the ball over. Kazemi came up with the loose ball and was fouled by Pitts with 11 seconds to play.
But Kazemi, who scored his 1000th career point during the game, would miss both of his free throw attempts and Marshall would a quick push up the floor and Johnson's game-winning laying.
Kazemi, who now has 1,007 career points, had a streak of eighth straight double-double games come to an end as he finished with 15 points and four rebounds. He was 6-for-6 from the field.
Pitts led Marshall with 18 points while Johnson scored 13. Dennis Tinnon had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Marshall, which entered the game as one of the top rebounding teams in the country, outrebounded the Owls 45-27 and scored 18, second-chance points off 16 offensive rebounds.