Herd hoops accepts bid to play in CIT
FRISCO, Texas — Losing by 50 points hurt bad, but this one was more painful.
Marshall’s Thundering Herd, the Conference USA Tournament defending champion, was whipped at Southern Miss, 101-51, in a Jan. 26 regular season game. Marshall offered no excuses, but it was the Herd’s fifth game in a 10-day stretch, and its third straight away from home.
Senior guard Jon Elmore led the Herd into the 2019 C-USA tournament rested and riding a five-game win streak that grew to six games Wednesday night with a first-round win against Rice, 82-65.
Southern Miss, third-seeded in the event, ended No. 6-seed Marshall’s repeat dreams with an 82-73 quarterfinal defeat Thursday night in the Ford Center at The Star where the announced crowd of 4,024 spectators included about 100 supporting the Herd.
“It was tough for us,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We wanted to certainly repeat what we did last year.”
Marshall’s chartered flight home was delayed, but the travel party including the men’s and women’s teams was at the airport Friday afternoon waiting to depart.
But, as Major League Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”
Marshall (19-14) announced Friday afternoon it accepted an invitation to participate in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament — known as the CIT — with a Tuesday home game in the Cam Henderson Center. The CIT’s lineup last year was 20 teams.
Tickets to the first-round game are on sale to season ticket holders who can access their account at HerdZone.com to reserve their same locations. Unsecured season tickets go on sale at 2 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $25 for lower level chairback, $20 for lower level bleacher, $15 for upper chair-back and $10 for general admission. Customers are encouraged to use the mobile or print-at-home delivery option for ticket distribution. There will be a will call option for an additional $5 charge.
General admission tickets are on sale now. The ticket office will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The first 200 student tickets are free to Marshall students with a valid ID. Students can start picking up their tickets on Monday at 9 a.m. All other student tickets are $5.
“The opportunity to play in the postseason will be good for our young guys and gives two of the most prolific scorers in Marshall history a chance to add to their totals,” D’Antoni said. “We play a fun style of basketball and I know our fans will support this team and come watch us play. We look forward to seeing a nice crowd on Tuesday.
Marshall is in the postseason for the second consecutive year following a 2018 NCAA Tournament second round appearance. The Herd played previously in the CIT in 2011 and 2010.
Elmore goes into the CIT with a chance to unseat Skip Henderson (1984-88) as the school’s all-time points leader. Elmore has 2,555 and needs 20 to pass Henderson. The point guard from Charleston already holds the school and C-USA assists records with 756.
Marshall played Southern Miss (20-11) tough until the very end. Nobody led by more than six until Leonard Harper-Baker’s layup for Southern Miss broke a 65-65 tie and the Eagles finished by outscoring Herd in the final five minutes, 17-8.
Southern Miss shot 53.8 percent from the floor in a contest that went back and forth with eight ties and 15 lead changes. Marshall and the Golden Eagles matchup at a frenetic pace and the Herd stayed in it most of the way by going 17-for-37 on 3-point shots.
“Maybe it was exhaustion,” D’Antoni said. “We were actually running and cutting and getting into the picks and rolls, penetrations, and the ball was going two or three times and we’d get a wide-open look. We hit a lull for about two minutes and we couldn’t get that same movement.”
Jannson Williams topped the Marshall scoring with 22 and the 6-foot-9 sophomore connected on six 3-point shots in 12 attempts. Elmore had 18 points, 11 assists and a team-high eight rebounds in his 20th career double-double game. Freshman forward Taevion Kinsey added 16 points. Senior guard C.J. Burks recovered from early foul trouble to score 10, all after halftime, on 2-for-after halftime, on 2-for-11 shooting.
Burks passed Tamar Slay (1998-2002) into seventh place in the Herd record book with 1,802 points.
Marshall connected on merely 42.6 percent of its shots.
“I do think we’re one of the better defensive teams (in C-USA),” Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler said. “And, there’s no question that he (D’Antoni) is probably the toughest team there is to guard.”
Southern Miss senior guard Tyree Griffin and sophomore guard popped in 23 and 20 points respectively. Harper-Baker, a junior forward, had 16 points and led the Golden Eagles to a plus-19 rebounding edge with nine.