MCGILL: Browning Heats Up, @HerdMBB Advances in Tourney
Stevie Browning scored a game-high 22 points
By Chuck McGill
Box Score (PDF)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Stevie Browning connected on four baskets in 94 seconds – three of which were 3-pointers – to flip a close Conference USA first round men’s basketball game into a double-digit lead in Marshall’s 89-74 win against Florida Atlantic on Wednesday here at Legacy Arena.
The win moves the sixth-seeded Thundering Herd (18-14) into Thursday’s tournament quarterfinals against third-seeded Old Dominion (19-11). MU and ODU split a pair of regular season games. That game, again the last of four games at Legacy Arena, will tip at 9 p.m. and be televised by ASN.
Marshall will get a chance in the rubber match thanks to, in part, Browning’s hot shooting touch. The 6-foot-3 senior guard from Logan, West Virginia, made a layup with 13:08 left of the first half, and then connected on 3s at 12:43, 12:05 and 11:34 to turn a 13-11 lead into a 24-11 cushion. Over the final 29:26 of the last men’s game of the opening day, Marshall’s lead dipped to single digits only once – for a mere 27 seconds – and swelled to 26 points, 74-48, with 9:54 left of the second half.
“Most of it wasn’t me,” said Browning, “It was all my teammates finding me and opportune situations for me to find good looks.”
Browning finished with a game-high 22 points, which included 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. He also added five rebounds and five assists, and had 18 of his 22 points in the first half.
The Herd led by 23 points at intermission after Ajdin Penava had his half-ending basket, originally ruled good, reviewed and taken off the board after it was determined he released the ball after the clock hit all zeroes.
If D’Antoni wanted to nit-pick about a tournament win, he could because of a second-half lapse by the Herd. That 26-point advantage was whittled to 14 points, 74-60, after a 12-0 run by FAU over a two-minute, 18-second span. D’Antoni called a 30-second timeout, subbed in junior guard Jon Elmore and watched as Marshall built the lead back to as much as 21 points two minutes later.
“I thought we came out and shot the ball well early,” D’Antoni said. “Got a lead and played pretty well with it until midway through the second half.”
“It seemed like we lost our focus,” D’Antoni added. “We got to make sure we don’t do that again.”
Marshall finished with 12 3-pointers, although only four came in the second half. The Herd made 50 percent of its shots in the first half, but only 34.5 after the break. It made 42.1 percent of 3-pointers in the first half, but only 28.6 in the final 20 minutes.
Still, Marshall advanced in the conference tournament for the second consecutive year under D’Antoni.
“Just keep moving forward,” D’Antoni said.
The Herd played Old Dominion twice in the regular season: Jan. 5 win at the Henderson Center (90-86 in overtime), and a Feb. 23 loss at ODU (86-65). Browning missed the second matchup, but carries momentum into the quarterfinals.
The Monarchs offered a drastically different matchup than Marshall’s first round opponent, FAU, which finished the season at 10-20.
“It’s a totally different style,” D’Antoni said. “They try to stay tighter in the paint. Defensively, they’re athletic and strong. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Marshall finished with five players in double figures: Browning 22, Elmore 14, C.J. Burks 14, Ryan Taylor 11 and Austin Loop 10. Forward Terrence Thompson finished with 8 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Herd had 17 assists on 28 field goals and outrebounded FAU 49-45.
Austin Loop inched closer to the top five 3-point shooters in Conference USA history. Loop hit a pair of 3s against FAU, which gives him 282 career 3s. Marquette great Travis Diener hit 284 career 3-pointers, which ranks No. 5 in league history.
Loop started his 97th consecutive game.
Stevie Browning’s five 3-pointers pushed his career total to 110, which moved him past Cornelius Jackson (107, 1998-2001) and Mark Dorris (109, 2005-08) on Marshall’s career list. Browning is ranked No. 18 in program history, one 3-pointer behind tying DeAndre Kane (111, 2010-13) for No. 17 in program history.
Jon Elmore connected on a pair of 3-pointers, increasing his career total to 134. That moves Elmore past Skip Henderson for No. 13 in program history in career 3s. Henderson hit 133 from beyond the arc (1984-88).
Elmore’s career points total is now 1,024. During Wednesday’s first round game, Elmore passed Bob Wright (1,019, 1947-49) and tied Greg White (1,024 1977-81) for No. 46 in Herd history.