BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Ben Lawson converted a three-point play as fifth-seeded Western Kentucky began a 10-0 run to break away from No. 12 seed Marshall and claim a 59-45 victory Wednesday night in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament.
They were Lawson's only points but came at a handy time, with 6:56 remaining, after Marshall had closed to 46-41 on a Vince DeBoykin layup.
Western Kentucky (20-11) will play fourth-seeded UAB (16-15) Thursday. The Hilltoppers, playing in their first Conference USA tournament, notched their 43rd 20-win season and must win four games in four days to make the NCAA tourney, a feat the Hilltoppers accomplished in 2012 and 2013 in the Sun Belt.
Western Kentucky led from start to finish, but Marshall (11-21) stayed close until the final seven minutes. JP Kambola led with 12 points.