COLUMBUS, Ohio — If someone wanted to know what Herd That’s team is all about, they only needed to see the first play and the final play on Sunday.
To start the game, Stevie Browning collected the jump ball and hit Ot Elmore for a 3-pointer that set the tone and led Herd That to a double-digit halftime lead.
To end it, Jon Elmore sent a lob to Zach Smith for a dunk that put the finishing touches on an 80-65 win over Peoria All-Stars in which 3-pointers and alley-oops reigned supreme during the first-round win at The Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
That’s the style in a nutshell, and social media fell in love with it as Herd That made it to the Round of 16 where they will take on The Money Team at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
“I thought today’s game was a lot of fun,” said Ot Elmore, player and general manager, following the win. “We came out and got the win, so obviously we came out and took care of business. We’ve got a lot of things we can clean up.”
Jon Elmore overcame a tough shooting day, but the all-time scoring and assist leader in Marshall and Conference USA history finished with nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in a balanced effort that saw Herd That have eight of its 10 players contribute at least six points.
Herd That was led by 22 points and nine rebounds from Middle Tennessee product JaCorey Williams, a former Conference USA Player of the Year.
Williams said that the 10-day training camp helped build chemistry as he got used to the up-tempo style and pace that the Marshall-based system brings.
“With this style of play, everybody eats,” Williams said. “If you run the floor, play hard and fill the lanes, these guys are going to find you. They can shoot threes and you’ve got to respect the 3-ball, so the floor is pretty much wide open. You can have a lot of fun playing in this style for sure.”
An early barrage of 3-pointers from Herd That opened penetration lanes in the second half as Peoria All-Stars stayed out on the outside shot.
The result was a wealth of lobs that finished with several dunks by Williams and former Texas Tech product Zach Smith, who also had 10 points.
Still, Herd That had to survive a rally from Peoria All-Stars, who cut what was once a 19-point lead to 63-57 early in the final quarter.
However, Jon Elmore knocked down a 3-pointer in transition — Herd That’s only second-half 3-pointer — to steady the ship.
That shot started a 17-8 run for Herd That to end the game with Elmore’s lob to Smith punctuating the win.
The first half featured a definite Marshall flavor with Ot and Jon Elmore combining to hit five 3-pointers to lead the team to a 46-32 advantage at the break.
Ot Elmore said the early 3-pointer to start the game really got the team into its rhythm early.
“That just sort of got us rolling,” Ot Elmore said. “I was glad to see one go in and after that, it was sort of like a barrage. It snowballed on the other team. That’s the ability we have.”
In addition to the early shooting from the outside, Herd That outscored Peoria, 44-20 in the paint.
Peoria All-Stars was led by 26 points from Trevon Allen while Eljay Cowherd added 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Herd That did run into some issues early in the third quarter when starting guard Stevie Browning went down with a tweaked ankle after jumping to defend a shot.
The team is hoping to get him back for Thursday’s contest against The Money Team.