BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Marshall’s quest for its first Conference USA title came to an end Saturday night with an 83-72 loss to Middle Tennessee in the tournament championship game.
The Herd (20-15) was unable to replicate its three-point shooting in the semifinal round, going 10-32 from beyond the arc and 27-69 overall.
Conference USA’s leading scorer Jon Elmore had 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“We didn’t shoot as well as we do,” Elmore said. “The whole tournament we shot well until tonight. We’ve had a good year and it hurts going out like this.”
Middle Tennessee (30-4) relied on physicality on the inside, getting to the free-throw line 27 times, making 19. The Blue Raiders outrebounded the Herd 41-34.
Giddy Potts led Middle Tennessee with 30 points on the night, and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“He’s on his path kind of like Reggie (Upshaw) was,” Blue Raiders head coach Kermit Davis said. “He’s already made a name for himself and will be one of the very best players in the history of our school.”
Marshall played in its first Conference USA championship game since 2012. It was the first appearance under head coach Dan D’Antoni.
“It’s always great to be in the championship game, I wish we could have won it,” D’Antoni said. “I thought our kids played good enough to be in it in the end, but things didn’t go our way. That’s the hardest thing about coaching is that things don’t go your way sometimes but that’s life.”
Following the loss, Marshall will now wait to learn its postseason fate when tournament fields are announced on Sunday.