NEW ORLEANS, La. – For the second time in three days, a three-point basket with seconds remaining proved fatal for the Marshall men’s basketball team, this time against Tulane, 68-65, on Sunday afternoon at Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave improves to 13-11 overall and 5-4 in Conference USA play, while the Thundering Herd drops to 8-17 on the year and 2-8 versus league foes. The series between the two sides is now tied at eight wins each after 16 meetings with Tulane having won the last three meetings.
Bucking what had become a trend in the previous seven games, Marshall coach Tom Herrion started the same five in consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 11 and 16. The lineup was the same as Friday against Southern Miss, which included Shawn Smith (Sacramento, Calif.), Kareem Canty (Harlem, N.Y.), Chris Thomas (Denver), Cheikh Sane (Dakar, Senegal) and Ryan Taylor (Indianapolis).
Tulane jumped on the Herd early as four three-point buckets put the Green Wave up 16-6, forcing a timeout from coach Herrion with12:20 remaining in the first half. The hot start would continue as another long-range make put the home team up 19-6, capping off a 14-2 run.
Once having settled into the game, Marshall found an offensive rhythm that shrank the deficit to seven as the scoreboard read 22-15 with 8:47 until the half after a layup from Taylor.
The Herd worked to remain within striking distance and was successful in doing so as a pair of free throws from Sane with 3:45 left in the half brought the score to 29-24. With the ball and the clock winding down at the end of the half, DeVince Boykins (Forest City, N.C.) caught a kick-out pass from Canty and knocked it down to make it 33-29 at the half.
Through the first 20 minutes of play, Marshall had a relatively clean slate, committing just two turnovers to five from Tulane. Both sides were efficient from deep as the Herd was 4-for-7 (57.1 percent) and the Green Wave was 6-for-10 (60 percent).
After the halftime break, both sides opened the second half by exchanging buckets with the Herd continuing its comeback effort. A 14-2 Tulane run took the score from 37-34 to 51-36, keeping Marshall at bay with 12:30 to play.
Nine straight points from Thomas helped the Herd work its way back into the game as the Tulane defense did not have an answer for the sophomore guard’s slashing prowess. His scoring spree brought the score to 58-49 as 7:10 remained in the contest.
More members of the Herd followed suit with Thomas to rally on the road as Canty knocked down a three as 3:50 remained, making it a 59-56 deficit. Not long after, Sane turned a steal into points as Canty finished the play with a fast break layup. At the final media timeout, Marshall trailed by just one point, 61-60.
Getting his own rebound after a missed layup, Sane followed with a make to tie the game at 63 with 1:05 to play. The bucket gave the Marshall big man the first double-figure scoring performance of his career.
Freshman guard Jonathan Stark came up big for the Green Wave in the final minute as he made a driving layup with the shot clock winding down to put his side up 65-63 with 41 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Thomas was fouled and sent to the line, making both to tie the game at 65 with 28 seconds on the game clock.
With the shot clock off and Tulane with possession, 24.5 seconds remained in regulation. Junior guard Jay Hook took and made a long three from the top of the key with 1.4 seconds to play and the Green Wave on top 68-65.
With Boykins inbounding, Smith caught the ball just past midcourt and his shot for the tie was no good, allowing Tulane to hold on for a last-second win.
Thomas finished as the game’s leading scorer with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Canty followed with 16 and Sane with 11, setting a career high for the big man. As a team, the Herd shot 44.4 percent from the field (20-of-45) to 45.8 percent (22-of-48) from Tulane.
Marshall will have six days off between contests before taking on C-USA newcomer Charlotte on the road, Saturday (Feb. 15) at 7 p.m.