Herd clinches sixth with blowout win over FIU


Richard Crank

Marshall guard Jon Elmore (33) smiles in the closing moments of Marshall’s game against Western Kentucky at the Cam Henderson Center on Jan. 12, 2019.

Although five Florida International Panthers players scored in double figures Wednesday evening during its matchup against the Marshall Thundering Herd, it wasn’t enough for them to seal the deal as the Herd had five players score in double figures as well to defeat the Panthers, 94-78, at the Cam Henderson Center.

“I think you can see the difference in the legs,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “I learned a lesson by trying to play all year round. It’s too much. These kids did a great job. I thought second half we started snuffing off the inside a little bit better. (FIU) hurt us with penetration when they finished on their own in the dump off to the big kid (Osaghae).”

With the win, Marshall claims the sixth seed in the conference tournament and will face the Rice Owls once again with a 10 p.m. EST (9 p.m. CST) on Wednesday, Mar. 13 in Frisco, Texas.

“It’s funny how the pod system worked for us and worked against us,” D’Antoni said. “If we win Saturday, we’ll have one of the three best records in conference.”

The Herd improved its record to 17-13, 10-7 C-USA, while the Panthers dropped to 18-12, 9-8 C-USA.

Senior guard C.J. Burks led the Thundering Herd in scoring with 21 points. Senior guard Jon Elmore and freshman guard Taevion Kinsey had 18 points apiece. Sophomore forward Darius George followed with 14 points and senior guard Rondale Watson finished with 10 points. Burks and Elmore had seven and six assists, respectively. George, Elmore and Watson all finished with eight total rebounds for the team.

Elmore said that he’s confident that Marshall can beat any team in the league.

“We’ve been calling it our revenge tour,” Elmore said. “(We) had a rocky, early season, mid-season, three-quarter season, but this last little stretch, I think we’re turning it on and playing Marshall basketball.”

At the half, the Herd led 47-46, as the game went back and forth with the score tied six times and Marshall outshot FIU in field goals (45.5 percent), three pointers (32.3 percent) and free throws (70 percent).

“When we play like that, they’re not used to that type of speed. It will definitely start to wear down on them,” Burks said. “It helps our conditioning a lot. It’s our game. We’ve been doing this for some years now.”

FIU was led by junior center Osasumwen Osaghae with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Brian Beard Jr. added 12 points, while redshirt junior Devon Andrews, freshman guard Antonio Daye Jr., and junior guard Trejon Jacob all finished with 10 points apiece.

Kinsey praised the team effort that Herd has really locked in during practice.

“We just knew that it was time to turn this thing around,” Kinsey said. “Everybody wanted to lock in. We’ve been going hard all season and it was time for us to finish these last couple stretch games that we got before we go to the tournament. I think the team effort has been real(ly) high.”

Kinsey commended the players that don’t see much playing time, the practice squad because they have done a great job going against the others.

Marshall will close out its home game season with senior day on Saturday honoring Jon Elmore, C.J. Burks, Rondale Watson and Christian Thieneman. The Herd will face the Florida Atlantic Owls with tipoff slated for noon at the Cam Henderson Center. The Owls come in with a 17-13, 8-9 C-USA record.

Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected].