It was a lot closer in the end than Marshall would have liked, but the 14th-seeded Thundering Herd held off a comeback attempt by 11th-seeded Florida Atlantic and advanced to the second round of the Conference USA tournament, winning 63-59.
Marshall opened up a big lead early, building a double-digit advantage as much as 16 in the first half before the Owls awakened. The Thundering Herd went into the locker room up by only 35-29.
In the second half, Marshall looked as if it would pull away, going up by as much as 11, 53-42, with 8:32 left. But an 15-6 FAU run spanning nearly seven and a half minutes got them within 59-57 with 1:11 remaining in regulation. However, the Herd were able to hit their foul shots down the stretch and the Owls never hit the go-ahead shot as their season, and the tenure of coach Mike Jarvis, came to an end.
Chris Thomas led the way for Marshall with 21 points and seven rebounds, including 3 for 4 from deep. Raheem Canty struggled to 12 points on just 5 of 18 shooting from the floor. Pablo Bertone and Marquan Botley combined for 47 of the Owls’ 59 points as FAU had very little help otherwise.
The Herd takes on sixth-seeded Old Dominion tomorrow at around 4:30pm Eastern time. The Monarchs took the regular-season matchup between these two schools by a score of 70-63.