Photo by Dave West
The high-scoring Thundering Herd of Marshall made C-USA Tournament history Friday and eventually pulled away from the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to secure a 93-77 victory in the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament in front of an announced attendance of 3,299 fans at Legacy Arena in Birmingham.
Behind a C-USA Tournament record 19 made 3-pointers in a single game, Marshall (20-14) proved to be too much for LA Tech (22-10) to handle and the Herd closed out an impressive victory in the final minutes to advance to the C-USA Tournament Championship game.
Neither team was able to create separation in the opening stages of the game, but after Marshall guard Stevie Browning connected on a 3-pointer at the 14:52 mark of the first half, the Herd held a 14-8 lead.
From that point on, Marshall began to take control behind a 3-point barrage and after point guard Jon Elmore connected on a 3-pointer, the Herd extended its lead to 33-18 with 7:50 remaining in the first half.
Elmore connected on another 3-pointer with 6:59 to go in the first half that gave Marshall its biggest lead of the first half of 36-20. But the Bulldogs fought their way back in the game and went on a 10-0 scoring run to cut the Herd’s lead down to 36-30 at the 4:33 mark of the first half.
Marshall closed out the half with another Elmore 3-pointer and held a 49-41 lead at halftime. The Herd’s offense didn’t miss a beat in the second half and forward Ryan Taylor connected on a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 58-47 with 15:23 remaining in the second half.
LA Tech would quickly close the gap once again and the Bulldogs followed with a 12-4 scoring run to cut the Marshall lead down to 62-59 at the 11:48 mark of the second half.
The Bulldogs had a chance to cut the lead down to just one point with a pair of free throws, but after missing both free throws, the Herd made them pay.
Marshall responded with an 8-0 scoring run to extend the lead up to 70-59 with 9:08 to go in the second half. The Herd maintained its control over the next several minutes and guard C.J. Burks connected on a big 3-pointer with 4:10 remaining to give Marshall an 80-69 lead.
LA Tech cut the Herd lead down to nine points at 82-73 with 3:14 to go in the second half, but that was as close as the Bulldogs would get and Marshall put the game away.
The Herd closed out the final three minutes plus on an 11-4 scoring run to walk away with a 93-77 win to advance to the C-USA Tournament Championship game and notch its first win all-time against LA Tech after losing the first six games in the series.
Elmore led Marshall with 21 points and four assists on 7-for-12 shooting from behind the arc. Taylor rebounded from a disappointing quarterfinal performance with 19 points and 11 rebounds, his 40th career double-double.
Browning finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds as well for the Herd while guard Austin Loop added 18 points, five rebounds and four assists on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point territory.
Burks chipped in 11 points and three assists off the bench for Marshall. Guard DaQuan Bracey and forward Erik McCree led LA Tech with 16 points each.
The Herd finished the game shooting 19-for-35 from behind the arc as a team, breaking the C-USA Tournament record of 15 made 3-pointers in a single game as well as tying the Marshall program record for the most made 3-pointers in a single game.
With the win, the Herd advances to the C-USA Tournament Championship game for the second time in program history to battle the top-seeded Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee.
Marshall and MTSU tip off at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday on CBS Sports Network with a C-USA Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line.