Western Kentucky's Ben Lawson collides with Marshall's Cheikh Sane (5) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Conference USA tournament in Birmingham, Ala., Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP Photo/ AL.com, Mark Alm
AL.com, Mark Almond
March 11, 2015

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.

Chris Harrison-Docks led with 18 points, T.J. Price added 13 and Trency Jackson 11.

Western Kentucky led from start to finish, but Marshall (11-21) stayed close until the final seven minutes. JP Kambola led with 12 points.

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