The poor start for No. 4 seeds continued in the NCAA tournament on Friday afternoon as No. 13 seed Marshall stunned Wichita State with a 81-75 win in the East Region.
The win for the Thundering Herd marked the fourth consecutive season that one-bid Conference USA will send a team into the second round of the NCAA tournament. Marshall also earned its first ever NCAA tournament win in program history.
Matching each other blow-for-blow for much of the second half, the Thundering Herd (25-10) were able to win thanks to the hot shooting of junior guard Jon Elmore. One of the nation’s most productive perimeter players during the season, Elmore went for 27 points. Knocking down deep three-pointers and leading Marshall’s potent offensive attack, the Thundering Herd scored 47 second-half points to run past the Shockers.
Ajdin Penava (16 points), C.J. Burks (13 points) and Jannson Williams (10 points) also finished in double-figures for Marshall. The Conference USA champions are a dangerous team in this field if they continue to hit shots. Elmore has the star power to win this team a couple of games, and if he stays hot and gets help, then Marshall is a team nobody wants to face in the next round.
Wichita State (25-8) had 11 second-half turnovers as they had trouble keeping pace with the high-powered Marshall offense. The Shockers had some firepower from senior guard Conner Frankamp, as he finished with a career-high 27 points. Star point guard Landry Shamet added 11 points and eight assists, but he finished 3-for-13 from the field as he never got going as a scorer.
Darral Willis Jr. (13 points) and Shaquille Morris (12 points) also finished in double-figures for Wichita State. The Shockers only shot 27 percent (8-for-29) from three-point range as they ultimately couldn’t hang with Marshall’s second-half barrage. Wichita State had a strong first season playing in the AAC, but they lost three of their final four games as they failed to advance to the Round of 32 for the first time since 2012.
Marshall advances to play the winner of No. 5 seed West Virginia and No. 12 seed Murray State in Sunday’s second round in the East Region. If Marshall ends up facing in-state rival West Virginia in the second round, head coaches Dan D’Antoni and Bob Huggins have a history of not exactly getting along.