GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will look to end their three-game road trip on a positive note as they take on the Charlotte 49ers in a Conference USA matchup at Halton Arena.
Marshall suffered its third consecutive setback on Sunday when it was defeated, 68-65, by Tulane in New Orleans. The loss dropped the Thundering Herd to an 8-17 overall record, including a 1-11 mark in road games. Coach Tom Herrion's team scored 80 points or more in 11 of its first 16 games, but it has averaged only 59.7 ppg over the span of its current losing slide. Marshall is currently in a four-way tie for last place in the C-USA standings with East Carolina, North Texas and Rice.
The 49ers are on a two-game losing streak of their own thanks to their 81-64 loss at Southern Miss on Sunday. Charlotte was expected to be a contender to win the C-USA after its impressive non-conference performance which included victories over Kansas State and Michigan, but it has been mediocre en route to a 5-5 conference ledger. Coach Alan Major's squad has still yet to be defeated at home by a league rival and owns a 9-2 record at Halton Arena.
This will be the first meeting in history between Marshall and Charlotte.
The Thundering Herd took Tulane down to the wire before Jay Hook buried a 3- point field-goal attempt just before the buzzer to lift the Green Wave to the win. Marshall received strong contributions from multiple players including Chris Thomas, who netted a game-high 21 points. Kareem Canty contributed 16 points and Cheikh Sane added 11 with seven rebounds in the loss. In 19 of the team's 25 games this season, three or more members of the Herd have scored in double figures. Canty is usually included in that trio as he has been spectacular during his rookie campaign with team-leading averages of 16 ppg and 6.1 apg. Fellow freshman Ryan Taylor (13.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Thomas (12.1 ppg) have both shown steady improvement as the season has progressed.
Charlotte came out of the gate flat in its last outing and went into the intermission trailing USM by 19 points. The 49ers put forth a more respectable effort after the break, but they could not dig themselves out of the deep hole that resulted from the lackadaisical first half. The Golden Eagles won the battle at the free-throw line, 26-9, and had the advantage in rebounding, 37-25. Sophomore guard Shawn Lester paced the team in defeat with 20 points. Junior point guard Pierria Henry contributed 11 points and sophomore forward Willie Clayton tallied 10 with five rebounds before fouling out. Lester is netting a team-high 13.1 ppg, followed by Henry, who has shown off his versatility with 12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg and six apg. Clayton is scoring 11.9 ppg and paces the 49ers on the glass at 8.9 rpg.
Marshall's inexperience and lack of size has prevented it from finding success outside of Huntington. While the 49ers have been up-and-down as of late, they have consistently been a tough opponent on their own floor. The duel between Canty and Henry will pit two of the C-USA's top point guards head-to-head. Canty will need to dominate his matchup if the Herd hope to have a chance.
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