Fulton holds off Marshall at home

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton sophomore guard Deon Galbreath rises for a layup over Marshall senior guard Cedrick Bowers on Friday night.

Stephanie Backus/FULTON SUN photo: Fulton sophomore guard Deon Galbreath rises for a layup over Marshall senior guard Cedrick Bowers on Friday night.

Fulton boys basketball coach Marques Baldwin will take a win. No matter how effectively or ineffectively his game plan is carried out on any given night, if his team comes out on top, it’s a good night. But he’s also looking at long term implications for his team.

And in the case of Friday night’s North Central Missouri Conference game against the visiting Marshall Owls, he didn’t like everything he saw. Even if his Hornets 59-52 win did improve the team to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the NCMC.

“We’re having to fight and get wins in games that we should be getting distance from the other team and putting them away,” Baldwin said. “It’s still a work in progress and we’re glad to get the ‘W’ but we’re looking at the big picture and we’re not getting it done in the big picture.”

That’s not to say that it was all bad for Fulton. Senior guard Anthony Porter led the Hornets with 17 points on the night but the game was won down in the paint for Fulton. And no player made his presence felt more in that region than senior forward Nick Christensen.

Christensen chipped in a season-high 15 points and ripped down 16 rebounds against a much smaller Marshall front court.

“He played like we’ve been needing him to play,” Baldwin said. “It showed that he wanted it more than everyone else out there and that’s the effort we need from him every night.”

Christensen used his burly 6-foot-2 205-pound frame to blanket the glass and racked up a good chunk of his point total on offensive put backs and from the free throw line.

“It was great,” Christensen said. “I’m not usually the guy who scores all the points for us so it’s nice to get those right under the basket and put them back in.”

Two of those baskets came during a 13-2 Fulton run over the final 3:14 of the first half, giving the Hornets a 32-22 advantage at the break. The spurt was much needed after Fulton scored just three points in the first four minutes of the second quarter, which gave Marshall a 19-17 lead.

“We played our style of basketball and when we play like that, we can compete with anybody and beat them,” Baldwin said. “But we need to turn those little runs into sustained dominance we play like that from start to finish.”

That sustained dominance could have come in handy in the third quarter when Marshall came out firing. The Owls strung together 11 straight points to take a 33-32 lead halfway through the third quarter.

The lost opportunity to put an opponent on ice is nothing new to Fulton in this still young season. But it’s something that players and coaches both notice, evidenced by the timeout that Baldwin took after a 3-pointer from Owls sophomore point guard Jake Dillon put Marshall on top.

“He told us we need to pick our intensity back up,” Christensen said. “That seems to be the story of our year so far.”

“We’ll have a big lead coming into the second half and then give it right back to them.”

Fulton held a 41-39 at the end of the third quarter, a quarter that saw three lead changes and a 17-9 scoring advantage for Marshall. The Owls kept it close for much of the game, but couldn’t overtake the Hornets. Much of that can be attributed Marshall’s inability to convert free throws.

The Owls went 7-for-22 from the charity stripe, including a 5-of-12 showing in the fourth quarter. Fulton went 21-of-31 at the line, earning some praise from Baldwin after a week’s worth of extra attention being placed on those shots.

“It’s the best we’ve shot all season but it’s not where we want to be and we need to get our guards, especially, to step up to the line and hit those consistently,” Baldwin said. “We’ve been getting better but it’s all about confidence.”

The Hornets went 7-of-9 from the line in the fourth, including 5-of-6 in the game’s final minute to finally put away the Owls. Marshall got a team-high 12 points from senior guard Cedrick Browder.

Even with all the fault he could find in his team’s play, Fulton has notched two conference wins in the first four games. Sophomore guard Deon Galbreath scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds in his varsity home debut and senior forward Blake Calvin also chipped in 10 points.

“It was the kind of win where you look at the tape as a coach and see a lot of bad things but I’m glad we could grind it out and get the tough win,” Baldwin said. “So you can’t get too upset about it.”

The junior varsity Hornets won their game against Marshall by a score of 53-50. Junior guard Austin Moore and freshman forward Dalton Horstmeier were the only two Hornets in double figures with 16 and 12 points respectively.

Fulton next plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday at California.

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