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Elmore leads Marshall to Conference USA championship

March 11, 2018 GMT

The Herald-Dispatch

FRISCO, Texas - Marshall’s Thundering Herd rode the long-range shooting of Jon Elmore to win the Conference USA men’s basketball championship Saturday night, defeating Western Kentucky 67-66 to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The championship is Marshall’s first since 1987 when the Herd edged Davidson 66-64 to win the Southern Conference title in Asheville, North Carolina. As was that contest, Saturday’s game with the Hilltoppers was a thriller during which Western Kentucky trimmed a 67-55 deficit with 3:31 to play to 67-66 with 1 minute remaining. WKU attempted a shot inside the 10-second mark, but missed and Marshall rebounded with 8 seconds left, sparking a sigh of relief, followed by a celebration from Herd fans at The Ford Center at The Star.

The Hilltoppers attempted to steal the inbound pass, but C.J. Burks passed to Elmore, who dribbled out the clock to send Marshall to its first NCAA Tournament in 31 years.

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Elmore’s 3-pointer with 2:56 left in the first

half gave the Herd a 32-31 lead it extended 34-31 by halftime. Marshall

built the lead to as many as 12 points in the second half before a late

run by the Hilltoppers cut their deficit to 62-55 with five minutes to

play. From there, Western Kentucky chipped away, pulling within the final score with 60 seconds left.

Elmore finished with 27 points, four rebounds and six assists. Ajdin Penava scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked two shots. Jannson Williams scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots and fellow freshman Darius George scored seven points and snagged seven rebounds.

Marshall made 12 of 28 3-pointers.

Justin Johnson led the Hilltoppers with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Lamonte Beardon and Josh Anderson each scored 13 points and Darius Thompson 11. Dwight Coleby grabbed 10 rebounds.