Marshall picks up Quarterfinal win over UTSA

Jannson Williams dunks an alley-oop pass from Jon Elmore in Marshall's win over UTSA during the C-USA Tournament quarterfinal round.

FRISCO, Texas - Juniors Jon Elmore, C.J. Burks and Ajdin Penava combined for 67 points, 24 rebounds and 14 assists to help the Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball team advance to the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament for the third consecutive year, as it defeated the UTSA Roadrunners, 95-81, on Thursday evening at the Ford Center.

“I thought we shot the ball really well, especially early,” head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes. Sometimes we are a home run-hitting team, but that needs to carry over when we go for bunts and singles. That was a good game. Anytime you get into the tournament and win a ball game, that’s good. I’m proud of these kids. We got to put Marshall on TV for a little bit. It was fun and we enjoyed it. At my age, games like this keep me young.”

With the win, the Herd improved to 22-10, while the Roadrunners dropped to 18-14. Marshall’s 95 points were the most it has recorded in the tournament in C-USA history. The points also tied for the eighth-most in a C-USA tournament game.

Burks led all scorers with 29 points, while his nine rebounds were a career-high. Burks made nine field goals, two 3-pointers and a career-high and perfect nine free throws. Jon Elmore had his eight double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 assists. Elmore’s 11 assists were one shy of the C-USA Tournament single-game record. The last player to record 11 assists in the tournament was UTEP’s Jacques Streeter in 2013 against Houston.

Penava’s 23 points and 12 rebounds gave the junior his 14th double-double of the season. UTSA’s Byron Frohnen had his second consecutive double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

“A big part of the game is making free throws,” Burks said. “Coach stresses that a lot every day, so we try to put that into practice. When we miss free throws that gives other teams a chance to come back down the stretch.”

Three-pointers were the tale of the first half, as Marshall made 7-of-15 (46.7 percent), while it held UTSA to just 3-of-12 (25.0 percent) from behind the arc. After UTSA cut the Herd’s lead to 29-20 with 7:18 left, Marshall went on a 17-8 run to give MU a 46-28 lead with 3:20 left. UTSA went on a run of its own and cut the deficit, but the Herd had a 52-41 lead going into halftime.

Burks led all scorers with 18 points at the break, while Elmore contributed 3 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Penava added 10 points and six rebounds. The Roadrunners’ Bryon Frohnen led his team with 12 points and seven rebounds.

“Performances like this begin with being locked in,” Burks said. “The coaching staff did a great job preparing us for the game and we came out with the right energy to win the game like this.”

A cold shooting stretch, which saw the Herd shoot 1-of-7 over a span of 2:15 allowed UTSA to cut Marshall’s lead to 74-69 with 6:39 left. The teams battled for the rest of the contest, but two free throws from Elmore gave the Herd an 86-77 lead with 1:38 left in the game. UTSA was not able to overcome and the Herd advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive year.

The Herd finished the game shooting 45 percent (27-of-60) from FGs, 36 percent (9-of-25) from three-pointers and 84.2 percent (32-of-38) from the charity stripe. The Herd had 37 rebounds and 18 assists. UTSA won the battles in the paint, 36-26, points off turnovers, 13-11, second chance points, 14-6, fast break points, 9-6, and points from the bench, 15-9.

Up next, the Herd will play the Southern Miss Golden Eagles on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports.

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