El Paso, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Thomas scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the 14th-seeded Marshall Thundering Herd narrowly edged out the 11th-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls, 63-59, in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament at Don Haskins Center.
Kareem Canty netted 12 points for Marshall (11-21), which will move on to face sixth-seeded Old Dominion in the second round of the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday. Ryan Taylor added eight points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in the win.
Marquan Botley scored a game-high 26 points, connecting on 5-of-9 from 3-point range for FAU (10-22), while Pablo Bertone chipped in 21 points but turned the ball over six times in the defeat. Kelvin Penn grabbed a team-high eight rebounds for the Owls.
Marshall connected on 40 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half, including 3-of-12 from 3-point range, and took a 35-29 lead into the intermission. FAU shot 47.6 percent from the floor, but made four fewer attempts than Marshall in the frame.
The Herd dropped their shooting accuracy down to 35.7 percent in the second half, adding just 2-of-8 from 3-point distance. The Owls hit 37.5 percent from the floor, and went 10-of-14 from the free-throw line, but could only shave off two points from Marshall's first-half lead.
Marshall had the advantage in points in the paint, 24-14, and in bench points, 17-4.