(Chris Bowie/Boonville Daily News)
The Owls scored only nine points during the first quarter, but 29 points in the final frame for a 66-51 NCMC victory at Boonville, which won the home game of the series by 17 points a year ago.
"I think we were just nervous and excited," explained rookie head coach Jason Varner, MHS' top assistant the last three years. "We had a little too much adrenaline."
Threatened with a double-digit deficit heading into the second period, Marshall applied its pressure defense and was rewarded with turnovers -- the Pirates winding up with 24 giveaways during the contest.
Senior Jake Dillon came off the bench to score seven of his 10 points for the game, to go along with four steals, as the Owls went into halftime with a two-point lead.
With a little over seven minutes remaining in the game, the teams were tied at 38-all when Marshall broke loose. Junior Zach Glassmaker hit a mid-range jumper and sophomore Lance Thomas stroked a three-pointer to begin a 21-3 run over the next four-plus minutes.
Sophomore Connor Cooley added a pair of bombs down the stretch and the Owls converted 11 of 15 free throws during the fourth quarter to salt away the win.
Senior Alex Maupin "started driving through the lane and kicking the ball outside" for open looks from the perimeter, Varner noted. Maupin finished with a game-high 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior Damario Walker led Boonville (0-1) with 15 points.
Cooley had 15 points for the Owls, who also got a pair of steals from senior Ben Valencia -- who drew four charges and scored five points.
Marshall (1-0) will head to Sedalia on Tuesday for the Sacred Heart Tournament to take on the host Gremlins in the first round.