HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Thursday night Herd fans at the Cam Henderson Center sat in stunned silence as they watched a half-court shot fall through the cylinder and Marshall lose on a last second prayer.
Saturday night, it was Marshall’s turn to celebrate.
Austin Loop drained a shot from just inside the 3-point line as time expired to give the Herd a 108-106 overtime win over Southern Miss.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” said Loop. “I was about to throw it back to Jon (Elmore). I couldn’t look at the clock so when I stepped back I threw it up, God was looking out. He was with me on that shot because it went in.”
Marshall secured a bye into the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament next week in Birmingham. The Herd also got a little help with Western Kentucky’s win over Louisiana Tech, giving the Herd the third seed for the tournament.
Loop’s game-winning shot was the second buzzer-beater of the night for the Herd, which also needed a last second shot to send the game into overtime. Southern Miss’ Raheem Watts gave the Golden Eagles a 98-96 lead with 14 seconds remaining in regulation. With the seconds ticking off the clock, Jon Elmore missed a jumper. James Kelly snatched the offensive rebound and Marshall called a timeout with under a second remaining.
With just enough time to catch and shoot, Elmore lobbed the inbound pass to James Kelly, who tapped it in the basket to tie the game at 98-98.
“We put (Jacob) Kilgore in one corner and (Austin) Loop in the other corner. With four-tenths of a second left, we were able to spread out the court. We had C.J. (Burks) set a screen and that left James [Kelly] open.”
“It was a good screen by C.J. and then he threw it and that’s just what I do. I jump, and I finished it.”
It didn’t look good for the Herd early, as Southern Miss led by 23 points 11 minutes into the game. Kourtlin Jackson, who finished with 40 points for Southern Miss, had 25 at halftime. Meanwhile, the Herd made just 1-of-17 3-point attempts in the first 20 minutes and shot 35 percent from the field.
“We started the game flat and took too many 3-pointers early in the game that were early in the shot clock as well. There was very little ball movement and we ended up digging ourselves a big hole,” said coach Dan D’Antoni.
“Our team never gave up. They kept fighting all the way to the end, even when we were down 23 at one point.”
But it’s not how you start the game, it’s how you finish it and Marshall flipped a switch in the second half. The Herd was 21-of-31 from the field in the second half and 6-for-11 from beyond the arc.
“That was amazing. That was a lot of fun the crowd was amazing. Like [Austin] Loop said we struggled most of the game, we couldn’t hit a shot, we couldn’t get a stop, they hit shot after shot. We didn’t give up.”
Marshall will begin play in the conference tournament Thursday at 9:30 p.m.