HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Elijah Pittman scored a game-high 29 points, while Kareem Canty added 18 points and 11 assists to lead NCAA Division I Marshall University to a 119-77 win over the University of Rio Grande, Tuesday night, in non-conference men’s basketball action at the Cam Henderson Center.
The Thundering Herd, a member of Conference USA, improved to 2-0 with the victory and improved to 15-0 all-time against Rio Grande.
The game was an exhibition contest for the RedStorm (2-0).
Pittman and Canty were among seven players who reached double figures for MU, which shot 69.4 percent in the opening half (25-for-36) and 62.5 percent for the game (45-for-72).
Ryan Taylor and Chris Thomas had 15 points each in the winning effort for the Herd, while Shawn Smith, Tamron Manning and Austin Loop scored 11 points apiece.
Rio Grande hit just one of its first 15 shots from the floor as Marshall bolted to a 27-4 lead.
The RedStorm were also forced to play most of the night without the services of sophomore guard D.D. Joiner (Columbus, OH), who suffered a foot injury less than a minute into the contest. He was carried off the floor and left the arena on crutches.
“Things started tough and we never recovered,” said Rio Grande head coach Ken French. “When you lose your best player in the first minute of the game - we’ve got a lot of new guys this year, but D.D. is a known quantity - it put us on our heels for about 10 minutes before we recovered. We have to do a better job of handling that kind of adversity. It made us pretty thin, but we needed to learn how to play without him.”
Marshall led by as many 29 points in the opening half before settling for a 27-point halftime cushion, 65-38.
That was as close as the RedStorm would get the rest of the night.
The Thundering Herd got a three-pointer from Pittman just 13 seconds into the second half to take a 30-point lead and led by no less than 28 points the rest of way.
MU’s biggest lead of the night was 47 points, 119-72, following a three-pointer by Loop with 1:00 remaining.
Rio Grande finished 27-for-68 from the field overall (39.7%), including 10-for-35 from beyond the three-point arc, and was just 13-for-24 from the free throw line. The RedStorm was also outrebounded, 44-35.
Senior guard Jermaine Warmack (Orange, NJ) led a quartet of double-digit scorers for Rio with 17 points. He also handed out six assists and did not commit a turnover.
Junior guard Evan Legg (Piketon, OH) had 14 points, while junior guard Travis Elliott (Ironton, OH) and senior guard Ricky Tisdale (Bolivar, TN) added 12 and 11 points, respectively, in a losing cause.
Junior center Sterling Smoak (San Antonio, TX) pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the RedStorm.
“There were still some positives out of all of it,” French said. “We had some guys step up. Jermaine had six assists and no turnovers against their pressure, Travis did some good things….I could go on, but we’re a work in progress and we have to be patient through the process.”
Rio Grande returns to action on Friday night, hosting Cincinnati-Clermont in the opening round of the Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament at the Newt Oliver Arena. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.