HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – In a game that saw eight ties and 12 lead changes, Stephen F. Austin pulled out an 80-73 overtime win on the road against Marshall, Thursday night, in Cam Henderson Center as part of the Roundball Showcase.
With the loss, the Thundering Herd now sits at 2-2 on the season, while the Lumberjacks improve to 3-1 overall with the victory. With the contest marking the first meeting between the two teams, Stephen F. Austin now leads the series 1-0.
In a game that had a slow start as each defense honed in, Marshall was able to speed up the pace of the game to one that SFA was not accustomed to.
Both sides exchanged blows early on with the first the ‘Jacks remaining close courtesy of a strong rebounding advantage, primarily on the offensive end, and Herd’s struggles from the charity stripe. SFA led, 27-18, in rebounding with Marshall shooting 1-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Neither team led by more than six through the first 20 minutes of play as Marshall took a slim 32-30 advantage into halftime. The first half consisted of four ties and nine lead changes. At the break, senior forward Elijah Pittman (Covington, Ky.) led the Herd on the offensive end with eight points and five rebounds.
Sophomore guard Chris Thomas (Denver, Colo.) added six points in eight first-half minutes to give the Herd an offensive spark off the bench.
The Herd held onto its lead in the second half, even extending it to eight points on multiple occasions, until guard Thomas Walkup flipped the script, completing a three-point play to put the ‘Jacks on top, 62-61.
Stout defense allowed Marshall to jump ahead, 64-62, after a steal and score from sophomore guard Tamron Manning (Georgetown, Ky.) with 28 seconds to play.
SFA then fell down by three after a free throw from redshirt freshman point guard Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.). The ‘Jacks gained hope when fouled on a three-point attempt with 0.7 seconds remaining that allowed Desmond Haymon to go to the line and convert all three free throws to tie the game at 67 before the end of regulation.
The Herd was unable to regroup as the ‘Jacks shot 4-of-5 from the field in overtime, including two from beyond the arc, while Marshall shot 2-of-10. When the final buzzer sounded, Marshall suffered its first home loss of the season, 80-73.
Marshall’s two consecutive overtime contests, at Morehead State (Nov. 17) and vs. Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 21), are the first for a Herd team since Dec. 6 and 8, 1980.
Pittman finished as the leading Marshall scorer with 21 points, while SFA’s Jacob Parker finished the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds to help his ‘Jacks to a 47-37 rebounding advantage over the Herd.
Marshall will continue its three-game home stretch as part of the Roundball Showcase when the Herd hosts UNC Wilmington, Saturday, Nov. 23, at noon.