BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A strong defensive second half for Alabama-Birmingham broke a halftime tie and earned the Blazers a 61-50 win over Marshall on Saturday at the Bartow Center.
The loss dropped the Thundering Herd to 8-9 overall on the season and 2-2 in Conference USA.
Taevion Kinsey led Marshall with 20 points, while Jarrod West scored 12. Iran Bennett led Marshall’s rebounding effort with six.
Unfortunately for Marshall, scoring was hard to come by. The Thundering Herd shot 9 of 33 from the field for 27 percent in the second half when UAB broke open a 24-24 tie game at halftime. Rebounding was also lopsided in favor of the Blazers as they outrebounded the Herd 48-29.
Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni credited the Blazers’ defense with limiting the looks his team had shooting the ball but also said UAB had a disproportionate number of trips to the foul line.
“You can’t win a ball game when UAB shoots 31 and you shoot seven,” D’Antoni said of the foul shots. “Throw in 4 of 26 from 3-point line and there it is in a nutshell.”
UAB (11-6 overall, 2-2 Conference USA) jumped to a 10-2 lead following a dunk by the Thundering Herd’s Bennett that opened scoring.
Marshall followed that spurt with a 10-0 run of its own to take a 12-10 lead. The teams then traded baskets, and turnovers, until Marshall was able to build a five-point lead at 22-17.
It was all Blazers after that.
UAB battled back to tie the game 24-24 where the score stayed until halftime.
In the second half, four early turnovers by Marshall let the Blazers build a 14-point lead. Andrew Taylor, Jannson Williams and Bennett all picked up three fouls early. No players fouled out from D’Antoni’s squad, but the foul trouble limited minutes on the floor.
The foul situation sent UAB into the bonus with 11 minutes to play in the game. The Blazers shot 20-of-31 from the free-throw line for 64.5 percent.
Marshall didn’t shoot a foul shot until 7:27 to play and ended up shooting 6-of-7 from the line, with all seven shots coming from Kinsey. The Blazers were led by Makhtar Gueye who scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Tyree Scott-Grayson led UAB with 11 rebounds.
Marshall will return to the Cam Henderson Center on Thursday when it hosts Charlotte at 7 p.m.