With the top two scoring offenses in Conference USA slated to lock horns on Saturday night, many expected fireworks. Once the game started, the Marshall Thundering Herd and Charlotte 49ers did not disappoint.
The 49ers raced out to a six-point lead after the Herd opened with two consecutive layups. Marshall struggled to defend Charlotte’s hard drives to the basket, resulting in layup after layup for Quentin Jackson and Jon Davis, who each finished with 11 points. The 49ers also forced the issue inside, drawing contact and getting to the line 10 times in the opening half.
Marshall would charge back to tie, thanks to forward Ryan Taylor, who was forced to pick up the slack offensively while leading scorer Jon Elmore struggled to find his shot after starting 1-of-9.
No matter what offense the Herd mounted, though, Charlotte seemingly had an answer for each first-half run. The 49ers led late in the opening half before finally relinquishing the lead at the 1:47 mark. An Anthony Vanhook layup before the buzzer tied the game at 51-each at halftime.
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Despite a half that saw the 49ers shoot 54 percent from the field, Charlotte came out flat in the second half. Riding a hot-shooting night from forward Austin Loop, Marshall stormed out to a 10-point lead just six minutes into the half. Jon Elmore caught fire in the second half, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and earning a handful of trips to the line.
Ultimately, Marshall’s offense proved to be too much for Charlotte. The Herd would not look back after Ryan Taylor’s 3-pointer at the 10:34 mark, ultimately taking home the win, 110-93.
With the loss, the 49ers drop to 7-8 overall on the year and 1-3 in conference play. Charlotte will be back in action this Thursday, as they welcome the Louisiana Tech Bulldogsat Dale F. Halton arena at 7 p.m
Three who mattered
Jon Elmore, guard, Marshall: The junior guard powers Dan D’Antoni’s high-octane offense. Elmore came into the game averaging 20.8 points-per-game. He more than topped that with 27, his 10th game this season with 20 or more points.
Anthony Vanhook, guard Charlotte: Vanhook entered Saturday’s contest averaging a shade under nine points per game. Don’t tell the senior forward that, though. He carried the way for the 49ers against Marshall, pouring in 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Najee Garvin, forward, Charlotte: Averaging only 15 minutes-per-game, Garvin made the most of his minutes, scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting. His stats may not jump seem impressive, but he continued to fight, even in a blowout, potentially earning more minutes down the stretch.
▪ Anthony Vanhook looked impressive in the second half, scoring 12 of his 20 points. He was efficient, too, making all six of his second-half shots. He finished with 20 point in 24 minutes and hauled in nine rebounds.
▪ Despite a frigid night, the Cam Henderson Center was packed Saturday night. Over 6,600 people attended the Marshall-Charlotte tilt, giving the game a postseason feel.
▪ Jon Elmore tipping the ball to himself, then hitting a corner 3-pointer while getting fouled could be the play of the season in college basketball.
▪ After shooting 50 percent of their 3-pointers in the first half, Charlotte was held to just 2-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc in the second half.
▪ Despite struggling in the second half, Charlotte still shot 50 percent from the field.
▪ Charlotte’s bench outscored Marshall’s 31-8 in the first half.
They said it
“Like we expected, they were going to go up and down, just like us. The thing that bothers me when we play teams like us is they’re so unpredictable, they take the coaches out, so you just hope your players pull this one out.” – Dan D’Antoni, head coach, Marshall.
“The free-throw line was really the difference in the game tonight, that and Jon Elmore kind of taking over.” – Mark Price, head coach, Charlotte.