Sixth-seeded Old Dominion scored the first eight points of the second half and never looked back, roaring past 11th-seeded Marshall 73-58 in the second round of the Conference USA tournament Wednesday at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
Guard Aaron Bacote scored 25 points and guard Dimitri Batten scored all 13 of his points in the second half as the Monarchs shot 70 percent in the second half and cruised to a victory in their C-USA tournament debut. The Monarchs, who received a bye in the first round, joined the league in July 2013.
Old Dominion (16-16) will face third-seeded Middle Tennessee State (23-8) in the tournament quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
Guard Kareem Canty scored all 17 of his points in the second half for Marshall, which was within two points at halftime but fell behind by as many as 18 after the break.
Marshall (11-22) got an unlikely boost in the first half as forward Shawn Smith scored 12 in the opening 20 minutes on 5-of-5 shooting. He came in averaging 7.3 points per game. Smith’s 3-pointer with exactly six minutes left put the Thundering Herd ahead 20-18, but Marshall scored just two points the rest of the half and none in the final 4:35.
Old Dominion was only marginally more effective offensively early but used a put-back by guard guard Keenan Palmore with 2:43 left to establish the 24-22 edge they took into intermission. It was one of 11 first-half offensive rebounds for the Monarchs, who used their work on the boards to offset 32 percent first-half shooting from the field and 10 turnovers.
Bacote scored 11 first-half points to pace the Monarchs.
Marshall’s Smith cooled off in the second half and finished with 15 points. Guard Chris Thomas, Marshall’s second leading scorer (13.0 points per game) during the regular season, scored only four Wednesday on 2-of-8 shooting.
NOTES: Marshall advanced to the second round with a 63-59 victory over 11th-seeded Florida Atlantic in Tuesday’s first round. … Old Dominion downed Marshall 70-63 in the teams’ lone regular-season meeting on Feb. 27 in Norfolk, Va. … Old Dominion notched its first postseason victory in two years. The Monarchs were declared ineligible for conference tournament play in all sports for the 2013-14 season by the Colonial Athletic Association after the school announced it was leaving the CAA for Conference USA.
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