Herd Rallies to Down 49ers in Thriller

Photo by Benjamin Robson for The Charlotte Observer


By Trace Johnson

Marshall closed out its regular season road schedule on a high note Saturday night and rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to down the 49ers of Charlotte 93-89 in front of 7,040 fans at Halton Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte (12-15, 6-10) held a 54-41 lead in the early stages of the second half, but the Herd (16-13, 9-7) responded immediately and eventually took the lead and closed out a much-needed win.

Marshall’s offense came out scorching and took a quick 7-0 lead with 17:13 remaining in the first half.  The quick start continued and after guard Stevie Browning connected on an alley-oop slam dunk, the Herd’s lead stood at 23-9 at the 13:18 mark of the first half.

But Charlotte had an answer and after a 13-0 scoring run, Marshall’s lead was down to 23-22 with 8:49 remaining in the first half.  The 49ers took their first lead of the game of 30-28 at the 5:35 mark of the first half.

Charlotte continued its momentum in the closing stages of the first half and built up a 42-35 lead with 2:06 to go in the first half.  The 49ers maintained their seven-point advantage heading into halftime and led it 48-41 at the break.

That momentum to close out the first half carried over into the early stages of the second half for Charlotte and after a 6-0 scoring run to start the half, the 49ers opened up a 54-41 lead with 17:48 remaining in the second half.

But Marshall finally put an end to the Charlotte momentum and went on a run of its own.  The Herd went on a 22-9 run over the next several minutes and after forward Ajdin Penava connected on a pair of free throws, the game was tied at 63 at the 12:40 mark of the second half.

The Herd took the lead back when point guard Jon Elmore connected on a spectacular layup while falling out of bounds and Marshall led it 70-68 with 10:06 remaining in the second half.

Marshall maintained a slim lead over the next several minutes and held a 79-76 lead at the 4:33 mark of the second half.  Browning connected on a huge 3-pointer with 1:23 remaining in the game to put the Herd in front 84-78, but the 49ers were not done.

Down 89-82 with just 40 seconds remaining, Charlotte went on a quick 5-0 scoring run to cut the Herd’s lead down to 89-87 with 24 seconds remaining.  But Marshall closed things out in the final seconds with a pair of free throws by forward Ryan Taylor and Elmore to secure the 93-89 victory.

Browning led the Herd with 27 points and five rebounds on 9-for-13 shooting from the field after missing the previous game at Old Dominion with back spasms.

Elmore finished with 26 points, seven assists and three rebounds on 10-for-17 shooting from the field as well for Marshall while Taylor accounted for his 38th career double-double, adding 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Penava also racked up his second career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in just 16 minutes of action.  Forward Anthony Vanhook led Charlotte 21 points and seven rebounds.

Marshall’s win breaks a two-game losing skid and keeps the Herd in the running for a first round bye in the upcoming C-USA Tournament, although a lot still has to happen to gain that bye.

The win completed the season sweep of the 49ers and marked a Marshall program record at the same time.  The Herd clinched its 21st C-USA regular season victory dating back to last season, the most regular season C-USA wins in a two-year period in program history since joining C-USA in 2005.

Marshall finishes its regular season with two home games beginning Thursday night against Rice in a key game with C-USA Tournament seeding implications.  Charlotte returns to action Thursday night on the road at UTSA.