FRISCO, Texas (AP) - Jon Elmore scored 20 of his 27 points after halftime, including 11 in a row in a span of just over two minutes, and Marshall is going to its first NCAA Tournament since 1987 after a 67-66 win over Western Kentucky in the Conference USA championship game on Saturday night.
The Thundering Herd (24-10) held on to end their 31-year NCAA drought after WKU scored the game's last 11 points before missing two shots in the final 20 seconds. Jannson Williams got the final rebound and managed to call timeout while falling to the court with 7.3 seconds left.
Marshall had to inbound twice but the Hilltoppers (24-10) never got the ball back.
After losing in the C-USA title game last season, Elmore kept hitting long 3s in the second half for the Heard this time - he made six of his seven 3s after the break. But they didn't score again after Elmore's last 3 with 3:40 left.
Ajdin Penava added 16 points and nine rebounds for Marshall, which went into the tournament as the No. 4 seed.
Justin Johnson led WKU with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Josh Anderson and Lamonte Bearden both had 13 points.
Marshall: The Herd were in the Southern Conference the last time they made the NCAA Tournament. ... Coach Dan D'Antoni is a Marshall alumnus, and the brother of Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, who was at the game since his NBA team was in town to play the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Western Kentucky: Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth took a shot to the face while going for a rebound on the opening possession, and coach Rick Stansbury said it's likely that the freshman broke his nose again. Hollingsworth, who was averaging 13.5 points a game, was 0-for-5 shooting and had two free throws while playing 35 minutes.
The Hilltoppers, with 24 wins and 10 of those coming against teams with at least 20 wins, have a strong case for an NIT bid.
Marshall waits to find out Sunday who will be its first-round NCAA opponent.
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