MARSHALL - For the second night in a row, the Marshall boys' basketball team used an intimidating first half to pave the way to a significant victory. After dismantling Mankato East on Wednesday, the Orono Spartans were the latest team to fall prey to the Tigers.
Behind a trio of players scoring in double figures, the Tigers solidly defeated Orono 80-52 at the R/A Facility on Thursday.
Marshall was actually outscored in the second half against the Spartans, but the Tigers' 47-18 halftime lead was insurmountable.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall senior guard Austin Saugstad dribbles the ball past midcourt while being defended by Orono’s Tommy Gander-Ostrom during the first half of Thursday night’s game during the Marshall Fastbreak Club Holiday Tournament.
The Tigers held a small 13-7 lead after the game's first four minutes, but were able to outscore the Spartans 34-11 over the final 14 minutes of the first half.
Included in that surge was an 11-0 run lasting over five minutes and featuring five points apiece from Riley Sharbono and Derek Buysse.
Sharbono opened the run with a step-back 3-pointer from the top of the key, while Buysse closed it with a 3 from the wing.
Scoring: Sam Sustacek 15, Matt Heussner 7, Pete Duxbury 6, Tommy Gander-Ostrom 5, Cole Hennings 5, Justin Hammer 4, Andy Ten Eyck 2, Ben Turnham 1 Noah Grothe 4, Ethan Larson 3, Chandler Perry 2.
Austin Saugstad 7 3-4 19, Riley Sharbono 6 4-4 17, Derek Buysse 5 3-4 15, Tanner Bukowski 2 7-9 9, Aaron Mathiowetz 2 2-4 6, Hunter Peterson 1 2-2 5, Spencer Petrich 1 2-2 4, Bryce Johnson 1 1-2 3, Carl Douglas 1 0-2 2. Totals 25 24-31 80. 3-pointers 6 (Saugstad 2, Buysse 2) Rebounds 38 (Sharbono 6, Mathiowetz 6) Assists 15 (Mathiowetz 5) Steals 10 (Mathiowetz 2, Saugstad 2, Petrich 2) Blocks 0 Turnovers 14 Total Fouls 12.
Halftime Score: Marshall 47, Orono 18
Sharbono finished the game with 17 points, while Buysse had 15. Sharbono also tied Aaron Mathiowetz for the team lead in rebounds with six.
The run was made possible by Marshall's aggressive on-ball defense. High pressure on the ball handler has allowed the Tigers to win six straight games, their last five by an average margin of 29 points.
"It started on the defensive end," Marshall head coach Travis Carroll said. "The kids played well in the first half and it kind of set the tone right away in the game. It was defense. In the second half it wasn't as effective as it was in the first half, but hopefully we can change something to get it to carry into the second half."
The Tigers forced 16 turnovers and had 10 steals in the game, leading to easy baskets at the other end of the floor. Moreover, the Tigers did a superb job of cutting to the basket to create options for their ball handlers.
"They just play well together and share the ball well together," Carroll said of his team. "They know that if they're cutting to the basket that they've got a teammate that's looking to give them an easy bucket."
As a result, Marshall finished with 26 points in the paint. Austin Saugstad picked up eight of his game-high 19 points amidst the trees, while he and Mathiowetz combined for half of Marshall's 16 assists by finding the unguarded slashers.
Though Orono never truly threatened in the second half, only getting as close as 22 points, its play on both ends of the floor was much improved, which, according to Carroll, came down to knocking down a few shots against the Tigers' defense.
"We try to force (our opponents) into difficult shots and create easy opportunities for ourselves," Carroll said. "In the second half (Orono) started making shots and it was difficult for us to get the ball down the court and create opportunities to score on the offensive end."
Marshall's smallest lead of the second half came after Ethan Larson hit a 3 with 8 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game. Sharbono, however, responded with a pair of layups off of backdoor cuts to swing momentum back in Marshall's favor and end any thought of a comeback in the minds of the Spartans.
A point of concern for the Tigers before the game was the height of the Spartans. Orono had four players measuring at least 6-foot-6, while the Tigers top out at 6-foot-3. Despite being categorized as a small team, the Tigers play taller than they are and controlled the interior of the floor and the glass against the Spartans.
Marshall had 38 total rebounds compared to Orono's 26, and created 10 second-chance points to Orono's six. The Tigers also scored 10 more points in the paint than the Spartans.
One area that the Tigers had fits with against Orono was guarding 6-foot-6 freshman Sam Sustacek. The Orono forward led his team in scoring with 13 points and was the only Spartan to crack double figures against Marshall.
The Tigers (6-1 overall) will close out their home tournament tonight at 8 p.m. at Marshall High School against Tracy-Milroy Balaton, while the Spartans will play Minneapolis Washburn at 4:30 p.m.