‘Bad matchup’ Marshall trips No. 24 Middle Tennessee again

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Throughout the 18-game Conference USA schedule, No. 24 Middle Tennessee State had an answer for every opponent except Marshall.

The Herd closed the regular season by upsetting the league champs 76-67 on Saturday night, beating MTSU for the second time in two months.

Jon Elmore poured in 23 points, C.J. Burks scored 20, and reserve forward Jannson Williams finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Despite 4-of-22 shooting from 3-point range, Marshall (21-10, 11-7) beat a ranked team for the first time since upsetting West Virginia in 2011.

The Herd also locked up the fourth seed in the C-USA Tournament to guarantee a bye.

“Great win for this team and program,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “That’s the first time we’ve beat a top 25 team in a while.

“It goes to show you that if we come out and ready, we can hang with anyone. Our bandwagon is always open. If you jump on late, we’re happy to have you.”

It was a stunning home loss for Middle Tennessee (24-6, 16-2) on senior night. Brandon Walters scored 20 in the loss and Nick King finished with 18 points.

“Marshall twice has out-toughed us,” Blue Raiders coach Kermit Davis said. “Sometimes you just get teams in the league that are bad matchups, and right now it looks like Marshall is bad matchup for us for some reason.”

King made only 3-of-11 at the foul line, where MTSU struggled to 13-of-26 overall. Marshall made 22-of-27 free throws.

Williams’ double-double loomed large with foul trouble plaguing Ajdin Penava, who had six points in 22 minutes.

The C-USA Tournament starts Wednesday in Frisco, Texas, with Marshall awaiting its quarterfinal opponent on Thursday.

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