Last-second goaltend call wins for Herd
DENTON, Texas — It appeared as though the Marshall Thundering Herd and North Texas Mean Green were going to play some extra basketball Saturday, but C.J. Burks had other ideas.
Burks, the Marshall men’s team’s 6-foot-4 junior guard who pumped in 36 points Thursday in a win at Rice, hit Saturday for 26 on 11-for-13 shooting and saved his best for last.
With the score tied 72-72 and overtime in the wings, Marshall took possession of the ball with five seconds to go after Ryan Woolridge of the Mean Green missed a shot and Herd guard Rondale Watson snared the rebound. Following a Marshall timeout to set up a play, Burks took an inbounds pass from Jon Elmore all the way up the court to the rim.
Burks put up a shot that bounced a few times on the rim and fell off with three-tenths of a second left. But wait — the officials went to the courtside monitor for a review. After looking at the replay, the crew of officials, led by veteran Duke Edsall, called Michael Miller of the Mean Green for goaltending and the basket was good.
Marshall 74, North Texas 72.
“The final play didn’t go according to plan, but we adjusted on the fly,” Burks said. “We knew time was running out on the clock, so I got the ball and used my speed and ball handling to get the bucket.”
OLD DOMINION (21-5, 12-2) at MARSHALL (19-8, 10-4)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cam Henderson Center
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1- FM and 930-AM, WMUL 88.1-FM
Winning in The Super Pit with a crowd of 4,115 spectators in the seats was big for Marshall, now 19-8 for the season, because it solidified its hold on fourth place in Conference USA at 10-4 with four regularseason games left. The top four teams in the regular season get a first-round bye in the league tournament and an easier path to the championship.
Marshall extended its winning streak to five games.
“We knew we only had five seconds left and knew C.J. is the only one who could get down there that quickly,” said Herd head coach Dan D’Antoni. “Jon (Elmore) did a nice job finding him with the ball. C.J. did his part to get down the court and it was a heck of a job.”
Two days after an overtime loss to Western Kentucky, the Mean Green suffered another heartbreak. The defeat stung North Texas in its bid to finish in the top four.
The Mean Green’s record slipped to 14-13 overall and 7-7 in conference games.
“Unfortunately, we just didn’t do a good enough job of keeping him (Burks) out of the paint,” North Texas head coach Grant McCasland said. “We didn’t want it to get back to (Marshall leading scorer Jon) Elmore’s hands so D.J. (Draper) was guarding him and (Roosevelt Smart) had Burks. He actually fumbled it for a second but he got it back.
“Rose (Smart) did a great job of making him go left, and they called Mike for goaltending.”
Elmore, a 6-3 junior point guard, supported the scoring of Burks with 16 points, a teamhigh eight rebounds and delivered five assists. Six-foot-10 junior forward Ajdin Penava followed with 15 points, grabbed four rebounds and rejected four shots. Penava leads the nation with 114 blocked shots. Junior guard Rondale Watson chipped in nine points from off the Herd bench.
The Herd shot 53.8 percent for the game (61.5 percent after halftime) and finished 7 for 21 on 3-point attempts after making just 3 of 13 in the opening half. C-USA’s best free throw shooting club (76.3 percent) made only 11 of 18.
North Texas was hot from the floor early, made some 3-point shots, and pulled into a 33-21 lead with 6:56 left in the first half. Marshall shut out the Mean Green in the final three minutes of the half, while Elmore lobbed to Rondale Watson for a dunk and Jarrod West nailed a 3-point shot that reduced the deficit to 38-33 at halftime.
The game stayed relatively close (13 ties, 11 lead changes) until Marshall built its biggest advantage, 59-53, on a pair of Watson free throws with 9:13 left.
Woolridge, who led the Mean Green with 25 points, drove for a basket and 68-68 tie, then made a pair of foul shots that put North Texas back on top, 70-68. Smart, who scored 20, hit a jump shot that put the home team up 72-68 with 2:13 to go. Burks answered with a drive for a basket and Elmore fed Herd forward Ajdin Penava for a layup and 72-72 tie with 35 seconds remaining.