The Marshall Thundering Herd’s magical week in March continued Friday with the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win by earning the 81-75 upset over 4-seeded Wichita State at Viejas Arena in San Diego, California.
After winning a C-USA Tournament Championship less than a week earlier, the Herd (25-10) pulled off a shocking win over the Shockers (25-8) to advance to the Round of 32 for the first time in program history in the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987.
Marshall started strongly out of the gates and after a dunk by Jannson Williams, the Herd’s lead stood at 18-12 with 9:55 remaining in the first half. Wichita State fought back to cut the lead down to 2, but the Herd had an answer of its own.
After Ajdin Penava connected on a free throw at the 4:18 mark of the first half, Marshall’s lead grew to 33-26. But from that point on, the Shockers ended the half on an 11-1 run to take a 37-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Shockers added to their lead early in the second half and increased their advantage to 43-36 with 18:25 remaining in the second half after Darral Willis Jr. hit a pair of free throws. Wichita State maintained the lead over the next several minutes, but after a Jon Elmore 3-pointer, the Herd tied the game at 52 with 13:11 remaining in the game.
Both teams would trade the lead over the next several minutes, but Marshall began to make game-winning plays towards the end, including a huge 3-pointer by Jarrod West with 3:11 to go in the second half that extended the Herd’s lead to 74-70.
C.J. Burks added to the momentum when he stole the ball and finished it with a dunk to increase the lead to 78-72 with 2:01 to go. The Shockers responded with a huge 3-pointer by Conner Frankamp to cut the lead to 78-75 with under a minute to go, but Marshall managed to close things out.
After a Penava dunk, a defensive steal, and one West free throw, the Herd secured the 81-75 win over Wichita State for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 31 years.
Elmore led the way for the Herd in spectacular fashion, finishing with 27 points, four assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Penava added a stellar game of his own and despite fouling out in the final minute, finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
Frankamp led Wichita State with a career-high 27 points as well as three rebounds and two assists, but Marshall out-shot the Shockers 46.7 percent to 41.5 percent from the field and 39.1 percent to 27.6 percent from behind the arc.
With the win, Marshall advances to the Round of 32 on Sunday to battle former in-state rivals and 5-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers.