MCGILL: Missed Chances Trouble Herd in Loss to ODU
The Word on the Herd
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Jon Elmore joined an exclusive scoring club at Marshall University, but he didn’t seem to care after Thursday night’s 84-79 men’s basketball loss to Old Dominion.
Elmore, a 6-foot-3 junior guard from Charleston, West Virginia, became the fourth player in Herd hoops history to score at least 600 points in multiple seasons, joining legends like Skip Henderson, John Taft and Russell Lee. But Elmore was left to lament the defensive stops his team didn’t make, and other opportunities that were missed in front of a crowd of 5,829 at the Henderson Center.
“Their physicality got to us,” Elmore said of the visiting Monarchs, who finished with 17 offensive rebounds and forced 19 MU turnovers. “It seemed like they were scoring about every time down the stretch when we needed a crucial stop.”
After falling behind by 1 point, 75-74, with 3:27 left of the game, Old Dominion (22-5, 13-2 Conference USA) outscored the homestanding Herd 10-4 the rest of the way to end Marshall’s five-game winning streak. After trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half, the Herd whittled away at the deficit and took the lead, 73-72, on a step-back jumper from junior guard C.J. Burks with 4:48 left of the second half.
The Monarchs’ Trey Porter answered with a dunk to make it 74-73, ODU, and then Marshall’s Ajdin Penava sank two free throws for the go-ahead points with 3:27 left.
From there ODU, which led for 30 minutes and 14 seconds of the 40-minute contest, regained control.
“That (game) was played at a real high level,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said. “If you didn’t enjoy this game then you don’t like basketball. It would have been a little bit better if we would have won.”
“It came down to us making a couple mistakes that they didn’t,” he added.
ODU’s B.J. Stith gave his team the lead for the final time on a jumper with 3:04 left. Porter followed with a pair of free throws for a 3-point lead with 2:02 remaining. The lead swelled to 5 points, 80-75, on a layup from the right side of the basket by Porter.
Elmore, who scored 24 points and had a game-high 11 assists, sank a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to trim the lead to 3 points. Penava then made it a 1-point game, 80-79, but those were the final points by the Herd.
A layup by Brandon Stith and two free throws by B.J. Stith completed the hard-fought contest.
D’Antoni also mulled his team’s 19 turnovers, as well as a 21-2 deficit on second-chance points, but said his team “could have pulled the game out anyway.”
ODU’s 12 steals was a result, he said, of the C-USA’s second-place team being “long and athletic. We had some misreads; two or three of them were careless.”
The Monarchs had five players score in double figures, led by Brandon Stith’s 21 and Randy Haynes’ 20. Old Dominion had 17 more field goal attempts than the Herd, and a 39-31 advantage on the boards.
Elmore shared the scoring lead with Burks, who scored 24 points on 14 shots and moved into the Top 40 on the school’s all-time scoring list. Penava finished with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, plus five blocked shots.
The Thundering Herd (19-9, 10-5 C-USA) opened the first half looking crisp on the offensive end, leading for much of the game’s first 10 minutes before ODU went on a 9-0 run to flip a 3-point deficit into a 28-22 lead.
Marshall had an assist on each of its first nine baskets, and trailed by 1 point, 40-39, at halftime. Old Dominion opened the second half on a 7-point run.
The Herd, which sits in fourth place in Conference USA, will play its final regular season home game this Saturday against Charlotte at 7 p.m. The team’s seniors will be honored before the game.
“We have to win this next ball game and keep our seed if we can,” D’Antoni said.
NOTES: Burks passed Austin Loop (1,096 points) and Dan D’Antoni (1,109) on the career scoring list. Burks, who is 40th all-time in scoring, has 1,117 points in 85 career games … Burks also moved into 13th in career 3-pointers with 137, passing John Brannen (135) … Burks scored in double figures for the 29th consecutive game … Elmore scored in double figures for the 63rd consecutive game … Elmore’s double-double was the 20th of his career … Penava’s double-double was the 15th of his career.