Marshall Heads to C-USA Tournament Semifinals After Nail-Biting Win Over ODU

Photo by Dave West


By Trace Johnson

A late free throw in the closing moments Thursday night lifted the Marshall Thundering Herd to a thrilling 64-63 win over the Old Dominion Monarchs in C-USA Tournament quarterfinal action in front of an announced attendance of 4,005 fans at Legacy Arena.

Tied up at 63 with under 10 seconds remaining in the game, Marshall (19-14) point guard Jon Elmore hit a crucial free throw with just 2 seconds to go after drawing a foul that gave the Herd a lead it would not relinquish and ODU (19-12) could not convert in the end.

The first half was a tale of two halves for each team and Marshall dominated the initial 10 plus minutes of the half.  The Herd jumped out to a 9-0 lead at the 15:32 mark of the first half, but it wasn’t done from there.

After guard Stevie Browning connected on a 3-pointer, Marshall’s lead was up to 15-0 with 13:24 remaining in the first half.  ODU finally got on the scoreboard at the 11:12 mark of the first half, but the Herd built on its lead.

Following a layup by forward Ajdin Penava, Marshall’s lead grew to a 17-point advantage of 21-4 with 9:41 to go in the first half.  But just as the Herd did to start the half, the Monarchs responded with a huge run of their own.

ODU went on a dominant 23-2 scoring run over the next several minutes to surge in front 27-23 with 2:19 remaining in the first half.  The Monarchs maintained a slim lead of 29-27 at halftime.

The opening stages of the second half went back and forth, but after guard Austin Loop connected on a 3-pointer, the Herd held a 36-32 lead with 16:33 remaining in the second half.

The game continued to go back and forth from that point on with both teams trading the lead.  Marshall opened up another four-point lead at the 8:29 mark of the second half when Browning connected on a layup.

But no lead was safe in this game and ODU continued to fight back and took a 57-54 lead of its own with 3:27 to go in the second half.

Tied up at 61 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Browning connected on a big mid-range jumper to give Marshall a 63-61 lead with 11 seconds to go.  But after a Herd defensive breakdown, ODU got an easy slam dunk to tie the game up at 63 with just 6 seconds remaining.

Marshall came up huge on its final offensive possession when after Elmore drew a foul with just 2 seconds to go in the game, he connected on a big free throw to give the Herd a 64-63 lead.

The Monarchs got a look to win the game in the final 2 seconds, but the shot was not taken in time and Marshall escaped with a nail-biting 64-63 win over ODU.

Browning continued his hot streak and led the Herd with 24 points, five rebounds and two assists on 10-for-19 shooting from the field.  Elmore finished with 15 points, a career-high nine rebounds and four assists as well for Marshall including the game-winning free throw.

Forward Terrence Thompson added a double-double for the Herd of 10 points and 11 rebounds on the night while Penava chipped in six points and two rebounds off the bench.

Forward Ryan Taylor battled foul trouble and finished with five points and two rebounds for Marshall.  Guard B.J. Stith and forward Trey Porter led ODU with 12 points each with Stith adding four rebounds and three assists along with Porter’s five rebounds.

With the win, Marshall advances to the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament to battle the 2nd-seeded Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a trip to the C-USA Tournament Championship game on the line.

This marks the first time in program history that the Herd has back-to-back C-USA Tournament semifinal appearances after making it to the semifinals last season as well.

Marshall and LA Tech tip off at 3 p.m. EST Friday on CBS Sports Network with the winner advancing to the C-USA Tournament Championship game to battle the winner of Middle Tennessee vs. UTEP.