Thomas Gives Herd Boost to Down Western Kentucky|
Nov. 26, 2013
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Despite falling behind by 16 points in the first half, the Marshall men’s basketball team battled back to beat Western Kentucky, 74-64, as sophomore guard Chris Thomas (Denver) poured in 27 points for the Thundering Herd, while recording six steals, Tuesday night, at Cam Henderson Center in front of a rowdy crowd of 5,113.
The win lifted Marshall to 4-2 on the season, while Western Kentucky fell to 3-2 on the year with the road loss.
With both sides starting the game fast, Western Kentucky started faster against the Herd as the Hilltoppers jumped out to a 24-8 lead with 10:10 remaining in the first half.
Facing a Western Kentucky team that has made two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances by winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, the Herd did not waiver.
Marshall answered with a 12-0 run at the midway point of the first half to cut the Hilltoppers lead to five, 25-20, with 6:06 remaining in the half.
Western Kentucky flexed its muscles to answer with a 9-0 run of their own, extending its lead to 36-22 with 1:51 remaining until halftime. The Herd would not roll over as Thomas fueled the Herd to make an 8-0 run to close out the half with Marshall down, 36-30, at the break.
Providing a much needed spark, Thomas led the Herd in scoring at the half with 11 points in 16 minutes as he was making his second straight start. For the Hilltoppers, guard Payton Hulsey led a balanced WKU scoring attack with 10 points through the first 20 minutes of play.
Coming out rejuvenated in the second half, Marshall continued its run to come within one of WKU, 36-35.
Marshall battled all the way back at the 15:42 mark to lead, 40-39, as part of an 18-3 run that spanned both halves.
Thomas put the Herd ahead, 44-43, on a bucket that gave him 20 points on the night with just over 13 minutes to play in the contest. After a steal, Thomas was fouled and sank both free throws putting the Herd up, 46-43, with 22 points on the night as 12:35 remained.
The HilltoppersiHilltoppersHi found themselves in foul trouble in the second half as three players had committed four fouls each with 12:03 remaining in the game.
With 7:54 to play, sophomore guard Tamron Manning (Georgetown, Ky.) sank a pair of free-throws putting Marshall up, 57-52.
As Marshall still leading by five with 6:44 to play, Thomas took a charge on the defensive end, forcing 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player T.J. Price to foul out. 11 seconds later, 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player George Fant recorded his fifth foul and headed to the bench.
A TyQuane Goard (Roxboro, N.C.) rebound off a WKU missed shot with 1:14 left and the Herd leading, 65-59, tied the game in Marshall’s favor for good once Goard made two free-throws after being fouled to put Marshall up, 67-59.
In a facet of the game that Marshall has struggled in at times, foul shooting, the Herd came up big down the stretch. The Herd made nine of its last 10 free-throws and came away with a 74-64 win.
Freshman guard Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.) finished second in scoring to Thomas with 15 points, while adding three assists on the night.
The Marshall defense clamped down on the Hilltoppers, forcing 23 turnovers and recording 28 points off of turnovers.
Senior Elijah Pittman (Covington, Ky.) was assessed a flagrant-two foul with 15:07 remaining in the first half, thereby forcing him to be ejected from the game.
Marshall will conclude its participation in the Roundball Showcase with a road contest versus ETSU, Saturday, Nov. 30, at 4 p.m.