Coming into this week’s Conference USA men’s basketball tournament in Frisco, Texas, Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni thought his Thundering Herd team had a shot to win it all.
As it turned out, Marshall’s stay in the Lone Star State was a short one as Rice upset the Herd 72-68 in the tournament’s first round on Wednesday.
Marshall, which barring any unforeseen at-large postseason tournament selection finishes at 15-7 (9-5 in C-USA), struggled early and appeared sluggish at times. The Herd had to attempt a late comeback, and despite strong shooting down the stretch could never quite close the gap on the Owls (15-12, 6-10 C-USA).
“Very disappointing, number one,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We did not play Marshall basketball, I can tell you that. No energy in our pick and rolls and movements. We came to our bench looking tired. It’s disappointing not just to me, but the whole team.”
Marshall senior Jarrod West, a Clarksburg native who potentially played his final game for the Herd, led the team with 19 points in the loss to go with a game-high seven assists and six rebounds.
West said after the game he had not yet decided if he will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA. He had hoped to not have to think about that for at least a few more weeks.
“That’s definitely an option, for sure, but I didn’t want to be thinking about that right now,” West said. “I was hoping to be thinking about that in a couple of weeks or a month or so.
“I guess it’s time to make those decisions now, so I guess I’ll be thinking about it for the next couple of weeks. We’ll see.”
MU senior forward Mikel Beyers also chipped in Wednesday with 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds while senior forward Jannson Williams and junior guard Taevion Kinsey each finished with 11 points.
For Rice, which advances to play UAB on Thursday in the C-USA quarterfinal round, guard Quincy Olivari scored a game-high 23 points while forward Max Fiedler had 15 points for the Owls.