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Herd comes home with victory in Charlotte

Feb. 16, 2014 @ 11:42 PM

HUNTINGTON — Chris Thomas was just following instructions.

That led to Thomas netting 18 points Saturday for the Marshall Thundering Herd in a 59-56 men’s basketball road victory against Conference USA foe Charlotte in Halton Arena.

“The coaches just told me to attack the rim and they couldn’t guard me off the bounce,” Thomas said. “That’s what I did and kept gaining confidence.”

Marshall, 9-17 for the season and 3-8 in Conference USA, made a slight move in the standings ahead of East Carolina and Rice who are 2-9 and tied for last place. It was Marshall’s second C-USA road win this season and its second win overall away from home.

All because Thomas did what he was told. During one stretch of the first half the 6-foot-5 sophomore averaging 12.3 points in his first NCAA Division I season dominated the action and silenced the crowd of 5,525 spectators. Charlotte (14-10, 5-6) was ahead, 30-19, at 7:51 of the half.

Thomas drove for a layup to begin a run. Willie Clayton of the 49ers turned the basketball over on an offensive foul and Thomas followed by completing a three-point play with another layup and a foul shot. Clayton missed a layup, DeVInce Boykins of the Herd grabbed the rebound and Thomas cashed it in with another three-point play.

Another drive for a score by Thomas finished a personal run of 10 straight Marshall points and reduced the gap to three at 3:22 of the half.

Marshall ended the first period with a 17-2 spurt that included a Thomas layup with one second left that put the Herd ahead, 36-32.

Thomas made only two shots in the second half, but his damage was done. His points came in an 8-for-15 shooting performance.

“Chris is obviously our best scorer,” Marshall point guard Kareem Canty said. “He scores in different ways. That’s what he does. He just gets buckets.”

Canty’s 21 points led everyone on the court. Forward Ryan Taylor added seven points and had nine rebounds. Forward Cheikh Sane had four points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Marshall went to a zone defense after trailing early and shut off the 49ers.

Charlotte guard Shawn Lester came off the bench for 16 points and guard Terrence Williams scored 14, but the 49ers shot just 27.3 percent for the second half.

C-USA’s most accurate 3-point shooting team coming in a 37.4 percent was just 4-for-23.

“We just tried to guard and we tried to win the game,” Thomas said.

Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said the game became a little too interesting down the stretch. Charlotte pulled within three on Lester’s 3-pointer with 21 seconds left. Lester missed a 3-point shot to tie it with 9 seconds remaining. Pierria Henry missed a 3-point try with four seconds remaining.

Thomas had the basketball at the end after getting the rebound of Henry’s shot.

Marshall is back home for its next two games — 7 p.m. Thursday against UAB and 2 p.m. Saturday against Middle Tennessee.

Tulane held off UAB (15-10, 4-7) for an 86-80 victory Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. Middle Tennessee (19-7, 9-2) grabbed a share of first place with an 81-64 win at home against Southern Miss.

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