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Elmore, Penava Help @HerdMBB Overcome FIU

Feb. 8, 2018

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Jon Elmore continued to climb the career scoring list and Ajdin Penava scored 20-plus points for the first time since before Christmas in Marshall’s 76-66 win against Florida International in front of 5,078 at the Henderson Center on Thursday night.

The Thundering Herd (16-8, 7-4 Conference USA) won for the 13th time in 14 home games this season and overcame a season-high in turnovers (19) through 11 conference games. Marshall, behind Elmore’s 22 points and six 3-pointers and Penava’s 25-point outburst, grabbed the lead 41 seconds into the game and never relinquished it.

“It was an ugly win,” Elmore said. “I thought we struggled here and there.”

Elmore, a junior guard from Charleston, West Virginia, shook off his recent shooting woes to help Marshall pull away in the second half. He hit four 3-pointers in a four-minute, 41-second stretch that helped the Herd stretch a 41-39 lead to a 57-49 advantage with 8:11 left.

“We were a little stagnant,” Elmore said. “We didn’t necessarily hit a lot of shots. We executed well even though it wasn’t as fast as we usually play. It was an ugly win, but we’ll take it.”

Elmore made 6 of 13 from 3-point range, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in the second half. Penava eclipsed 20 points for the first time since his 25-point game against Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 22. Thursday night against the visiting Panthers, Penava made 10 of 15 shots, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots.

“Penava is a competitor,” MU coach Dan D’Antoni said. “He wants to be really good.”

Marshall is 36-6 at the Henderson Center in its last 42 games with D’Antoni at the helm, and that home court magic continued out of the gate Thursday night. After FIU took a brief 2-0 lead, Elmore found Penava for a dunk and a foul to take the lead for the duration of the game. On that play, Elmore passed Sam Henry (1980-84) for third place on the school’s career assists list. Elmore now has 525 assists in his three-year career, trailing only all-time leader Greg White (701) and Mike D’Antoni (659).

Elmore’s big perimeter scoring night pushed him into No. 11 on Marshall’s career scoring list (see notes below).

That helped the Marshall offense overcame the length and defense of FIU (11-14, 5-7), which flashed a zone that, at times, frustrated the Herd. Marshall held a 3-point lead at halftime, 33-30, but quickly stretched that lead. FIU twice cut the lead to 2 points in the second half, but each time Elmore answered with a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to 5 points.

“They’re long and they’re athletic and they get in between passing people,” D’Antoni said. “They’re big and they get in between. Our passes weren’t on the money. They spread out and get their long arms out and it’s tough.”

Elmore also grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. C.J. Burks was the only other MU player in double figures, with 16.

FIU had four players finish in double figures: Trejon Jacob (16), Josh Stamps (15), Eric Lockett (12) and Brian Beard (11).

Overall, Marshall shot 28 of 58 from the field (48.3 percent), 10 of 30 from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 10 of 14 from the foul line (71.4 percent).

The Herd next hosts Florida Atlantic this Saturday at 7 p.m.

“It’s a good victory for us and we have to get ready for Saturday night,” D’Antoni said.

NOTES: Elmore passed Andy Tonkovich (1,578 points, 1944-48) and George Washington (1,593 points, 1978-82) for 11th on the program’s career scoring list … Elmore scored in double figures for the 59th consecutive game … Burks, who last week reached the 1,000-point mark for his career, cracked the Top 50 in career points at Marshall. Burks passed John Brannen (1,008 points, 1995-97) for 50th, dropping Brannen out of the Top 50 … Milan Mijovic set a career high for blocked shots in a single game with three. He had all of his blocks in the first half.