Marshall scores 86 points on an average night, and Old Dominion spotted the Thundering Herd the first 15 Thursday.
Hardly the start coach Jeff Jones drew up for his team’s Conference USA tournament opener. But the Monarchs rallied and somehow led by two at halftime.
From there, the teams traded blows in the starkly contrasting way they always do whenever they meet: the fast-paced Herd flung 3-pointers and slashed to the rim, and the deliberate Monarchs punched the ball inside and swarmed the boards.
Marshall landed the last blow. Jon Elmore hit 1 of 2 free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining and ODU failed to get a shot off as time expired and fell 64-63 in a quarterfinal game.
“It’s always difficult when your season ends,” Jones said. “We’d always like to have a chance to play one more.
“I cannot fault our effort at all. They showed a lot of heart when we got down as much as we did.”
The third-seeded Monarchs (19-12) missed their
first 15 shots – several from point-blank range – and trailed 15-0 eight minutes into the game. They finally broke through when Brandan Stith tipped in his own miss with 11:55 in the half.
“I felt the team as whole came out with great energy,” guard B.J. Stith said. “I don’t know if we were too excited to play.”
Marshall stretched the margin to 19-2 as the Monarchs continued to misfire. But Ahmad Caver hit a 3-pointer, and it was the Herd’s turn to go cold.
Clamping down on defense and flexing their muscles on the boards, the Monarchs put together a 23-2 run over a seven-minute stretch.
ODU led 29-27 at halftime after grabbing 11 offensive rebounds to one for Marshall. Then again, there were a lot of misses for ODU to clean up. Even after embarking on their run, the Monarchs shot just 31 percent in the half.
ODU warmed up in the second, but couldn’t get enough defensive stops and traded baskets much of the half. They also committed three costly turnovers in the final three minutes. Trey Porter and B.J. Stith led the Monarchs with 12 points each.
Guard Stevie Browning led Marshall with 24 points. He didn’t play in ODU’s win last month at the Constant Center. The teams split two meetings, with the Monarchs falling at Marshall in January.
Their match-up is Conference USA’s starkest contrast of styles. ODU plays at one of the nation’s slowest tempos; Marshall at one of the fastest. The Herd lead the conference in scoring offense, the Monarchs in scoring defense.
It’s interesting stuff for mavens of basketball Xs and Os and generally compelling entertainment on the court as well.
Thursday was no exception.
It was unclear immediately after the game if ODU will continue its season in a tertiary tournament, as it did in 2014 and 2016. But it seems unlikely.
“At this point, I haven’t really thought about that,” Jones said.
Source : https://pilotonline.com/sports/college/old-dominion/basketball/article_54569e1f-a27f-57bf-8b1c-1ba42d4f2e39.html