Taylor's early effort energizes Herd

By JPrince83
Jan. 06, 2017

Marshall's basketball game against the Old Dominion Monarchs was billed as a clash of styles. 

The Herd's fast pace, devil may care offense versus ODU's bogged down in your face defense. Eventually, the Herd's offense won out in a 90-86 overtime victory. 

But, for the game's first eight minutes and 10 seconds, it was all Monarchs. Marshall found itself down 14-0 before finally getting on the board with a Stevie Browning jumper at the 11:50 mark of the first half. For Herd fans, it was an unthinkable offensive drought even against ODU's nationally ranked defense. 

The scary thing is, that the14-0 Monarchs' lead could have and would have been more if it wasn't for the early effort by Ryan Taylor. Taylor who finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds for his 32nd career double-double, also had five blocked shots and may have made his biggest contributions to the Herd win long before his first bucket. 

During the Marshall scoring drought, Taylor recorded two of his blocked shots and grabbed six boards including a couple of hard fought defensive rebounds that put an end to ODU possessions. But, the play that most exemplified the effort that Taylor was bringing to the Herd Thursday night was his chase down block of a Travis Fields layup at the 12:15 mark. 

It started on the other end of the floor with Taylor having his own shot blocked, which allowed ODU to get out in transition. But, the 6-5 249-pound graduate senior hustled down the court, jumping up to swat away what looked like an easy bucket for the Monarchs at the last second. It was the kind of play that team's need to make when they are losing but often don't. It was also the kind of play that kept the crowd engaged despite the offensive struggles early. 

If it wasn't for Taylor's effort on that play and several others Marshall may have had a 20 point or more hole to dig itself out of and there is no guarantee that the Herd would have had enough firepower to claw back into a game that far out of hand. Coming back from 14 down was hard enough. It's not surprising either that when the Thundering Herd did finally get on the board with the Browning jumper that it was set up by a Taylor hustle play. 

After Browning had a floater swatted away by the Monarch's Trey Porter, Taylor outran two ODU defenders to get the offensive board and then kicked the ball back to Browning for an open mid-range jumper. Browning knocked it down and from that point on Marshall went on a 28-18 run to get the game to within four at the half. 

Marshall's offense eventually found its groove putting up 90 points on a Monarch defense that had previously only allowed a high of 68 points in an overtime loss to #10 Louisville. But, if it wasn't for Taylor's early efforts, the Herd offense may have put up hollow numbers in another narrow defeat, instead, Marshall moved to 3-0 in conference play and currently sit atop the CUSA standings along with Western Kentucky as the only teams with three conference victories.