HUNTINGTON, W.Va – Herd fans who filled the Cam Henderson Center thought they were about to see another overtime thriller as James Kelly’s free-throw tied Louisiana Tech with just 3.3 seconds left.
The air was sucked out of the Henderson Center just seconds later, when Derric Jean heaved a half-court prayer that gave Louisiana Tech a 97-94 win at the buzzer.
“We played the final possession the way that we wanted to,” said coach Dan D’Antoni. “(Jean) just hit a great shot. I told him that it’s a play he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”
“Catch it and see how far you can go and fire,” said Louisiana Tech coach Erik Konkol. “Derric made a great shot. He executed the play exactly right. It is amazing. We shoot a ton of half-court shots. We don’t make very many, but thankfully we made this one tonight.”
James Kelly led the Herd with 27 points while Jon Elmore posted his second double-double of the season with 18 points and a career-high 10 assists. Stevie Browning turned in 16 points and C.J. Burks had 12 points off the bench.
Louisiana Tech’s Alex Hamilton scored a career-high 38 points.
“They scored a lot of points in the second half. [Alex] Hamilton got to where he wanted to. That’s team defense; that’s not just the man guarding him, and I think we’ll make an adjustment,” Browning said.
Thursday night added to a string of crushing losses for the Herd. Marshall has dropped three in a row by a combined 16 points. In each game, the Herd had opportunities down the stretch and failed to convert them.
“It hurts, losing like that just hurts,” said Elmore. “We made some bad plays down the stretch so we can’t really blame it just on that play because we shouldn’t have been in a position like that.”
Marshall fell to 11-6 in league play and must win Saturday’s season finale against Southern Miss to secure a bye in the C-USA tournament next week in Birmingham.
“We’re going to have to go at it in practice tomorrow. A win puts us in one of the top four seeds so it’s an important game for us,” D’Antoni said.
Saturday is Senior Night for Justin Edmonds and James Kelly. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.