TULSA, Okla. -- It's no surprise that Marshall's season ended in a rain of 3-point goals by the opposition, for the Thundering Herd had struggled in defending those all season.
But what was surprising was the shot that ultimately killed the Herd's 13-19 season once and for all -- Ricky Tarrant's bank shot from the top of the key, fired with the shot clock nearing zero. That gave the Green Wave a 66-63 lead with 6.9 seconds left.
Marshall got the benefit of a belatedly enforced technical foul and got one shot at the buzzer, but Elijah Pittman's off-balance shot from the corner bounced away at the buzzer.
"It was a frustrating end to our season, dagger through our heart at the end," said MU coach Tom Herrion. "Three-ball ended up beating us in the second half, didn't guard it well enough in the second half. Did a great job in the first half, didn't do a great job [after that] and they bank one in to win it."
Indeed, the Herd played great defense in the first half, probably the best all season. It held the Green Wave to 26.7 percent and just 1 of 12 from 3-point range, taking a 29-20 lead in the process.
That was a stunning reversal of the first half of Tulane's 91-75 win in New Orleans, in which the Green Wave took a 59-35 first-half lead. The Herd also scored eight points off 11 Tulane turnovers and shot 52.2 percent offensively.
And the good fortune continued in the second half. When D.D. Scarver found Dennis Tinnon for a bucket that made it 40-27, the Herd seemed to have a big enough lead to weather the next Tulane run.
But then the 3-pointers flew.
Ben Cherry drew first blood and then Jordan Callahan, left open for the first time all night, fired in his only long shot. Tarrant hit a really long 3, hit two free throws and tied it at 47 with another bomb and gave the Green Wave a 50-49 lead with yet another. With 6:39 left, the Herd had to abandon what was a successful zone defense strategy.
Herrion said his team wasn't surprised by Tulane trying 3-pointers, but were surprised by the distance of those shots.
"They shot '5s' instead of 3s," Herrion said. "They shot '5s.' And give them credit -- they made big shots."