WHO: Furman at The Citadel

WHEN: 7:05 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: McAlister Field House

The play has been lost in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and a series of blown second-half leads. But for Citadel forward Quinton Marshall, it was the play that jump-started his basketball season.

The Bulldogs’ 6-5 sophomore grabbed an alley-oop pass from teammate Marshall Harris and threw down a dunk Dec. 21 at Nebraska, stunning a crowd of 14,189 and giving the underdog visitors a one-point lead midway through the second half.

The next time down the floor, Marshall canned a jumper for a two-point Citadel lead. Those were his only four points in what turned into a 77-62 loss, but they were enough.

“That really got me hyped up, that play and the atmosphere there,” said Marshall, who has averaged 11.8 points and 4.2 rebounds while starting the last five games. “Last year, I had the mindset, but the confidence was not always there. Now, I’m getting more and more confident. But I’ve still got a ways to go.”

Marshall’s impact on the starting lineup has not been enough to snap the Bulldogs’ seven-game slide — The Citadel is 4-15 overall and 0-4 in the Southern Conference heading into tonight’s game against Furman (6-12, 0-5).

But there’s no doubt the Bulldogs are playing better since coach Chuck Driesell inserted Marshall into starting lineup. The Citadel built second-half leads of 12 points against Chattanooga, 11 points against Wofford and 14 points against UNC Greensboro before losing all three games, two of them in overtime. Marshall played 42 minutes and scored 17 points at Wofford, and played 42 minutes with 13 points at UNCG.

“He gives us a great defensive presence,” Driesell said. “We put him on the other team’s best perimeter player, and he’s a lock-down, tenacious defender. And that gets contagious.”

Marshall, from Raleigh, grew up testing himself against his father, Lamar Marshall, who played college basketball at West Virginia State. A year at Charis Prep School, where New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham went to school, brought him to the attention of The Citadel.

“Probably the easiest recruitment we’ve had,” said Citadel assistant Rob Burke. “He was as energetic and talkative as anybody we’ve brought in for a visit. He played with our guys, and played as hard as anybody we’ve had come in. He had the passion, and he wanted to be here.”

A classic ‘tweener at 6-5 and 205 pounds, Marshall is still making the transition from high school post player to college wing.

“He’s got to work on his shooting,” Burke said. “And that will take thousands of shots. But one thing about Q, he will get his work in. That’s what we love about him.

“He wants a piece of the action. He’s got that alpha dog in him, and you need a couple of guys like that.”

Marshall, who loves to read spy novels by thriller authors such as Brad Thor, knows things are never as bad as they seem.

“We’re getting so close to winning,” he said. “It just makes you want to work harder and harder.”