This weekend, an opponent's 3-point shot bounced the Marshall men's basketball team's way – namely off the rim.
Days after Marshall dropped back-to-back road contests on last-second 3-pointers, the Herd watched two Charlotte 3s miss the mark in the final seconds, preserving the Thundering Herd's 59-56 win.
Freshman point guard Kareem Canty and sophomore shooting guard Chris Thomas combined for 39 points – 21 for Canty and 18 for Thomas – as the Herd (9-17, 3-8 Conference USA) snapped a three-game losing streak. It was Charlotte's (14-10, 5-6 C-USA) first home conference loss this season.
Marshall heads back home for its first game in the Cam Henderson Center since Feb. 1, when it hosts the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"We've seen it go through the net too many times lately," Marshall coach Tom Herrion said of his team's luck defending last-second 3-pointers. "I'm really proud to be the coach of those kids in that locker room. The heart, the resolve, all the adjectives you can use, this group is really special to me because they haven't given up when everyone else, maybe, has."
The 49ers didn't surrender in the final seconds. They just weren't accurate. Shawn Lester's 3-pointer with 19 seconds left cut Marshall's lead to 3, then Charlotte forced a five-second call on Marshall's ensuing inbounds pass. With seconds left, Lester's last 3-point try missed, former South Charleston High School multi-sport standout Pierria Henry rebounded it and his 3-pointer with time running out missed as well.
Henry, a former football and basketball star at South Charleston, was getting a taste of home Saturday night. He nearly found himself in a Herd uniform at one point, but he passed on a football offer from Marshall and signed with the 49ers. He finished the game with six points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
It was Thomas who corralled the final rebound for Marshall to give the Herd its second road win of the season.
"I wanted to get to that ball bad," Thomas said. "I saw the ball and I didn't want them to get anymore shots, so I chased the ball down. I didn't care if I was going into the stands."
Thanks to a solid all-around performance by Henry, the Herd found itself trailing by as many as 11 in the first half. Marcus Bryan's layup off a Henry assist gave the 49ers a 30-19 lead with 7:49 left in the first half. Henry ended the half with five points, four rebounds and seven assists.
Yet he and Charlotte did not end the half with the lead. Marshall stormed back in the closing minutes of the half, led by Thomas and Canty. Thomas scored eight straight points during one stretch as Marshall overcame Charlotte's lead with a 17-2 half-closing run. Thomas' 14 points and Canty's 13 points carried Marshall through the first 20 minutes, and Thomas' rebound and basket off a missed Canty 3 with time running out gave the Herd a 36-32 lead at the half.
Charlotte scored the first five points of the second half to take a quick 37-36 lead with 18:11 left, but a pair of Canty free throws 12 seconds later put Marshall ahead to stay. The Herd led by as many as nine in the second half. DeVince Boykins' tip-in with 12:05 remaining gave Marshall a 50-41 lead.
Lester led Charlotte with 16 points, though made just two of seven 3-pointers. The 49ers, which lead C-USA shooting 37.4 percent from the arc, made just four of 23 (17.4 percent) on Saturday. Terrence Williams was Charlotte's only other double-figure scorer with 14. Ryan Taylor scored seven points with a team-high nine rebounds.