Nationals

Memphis holds on for 73-72 victory over Marshall

Memphis holds on for 73-72 victory over Marshall

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Joe Jackson scored 16 points and Chris Crawford hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining as Memphis won its 10th straight with a 73-72 victory over Marshall on Saturday afternoon.

Crawford's free throws were followed by a 3-pointer by Marshall's DeAndre Kane as the horn sounded. It wasn't enough as the Thundering Herd (9-11, 2-3 Conference USA) dropped their third game in the last four.

Adonis Thomas added 15 points while Shaq Goodwin chipped in 11 for Memphis (16-3, 5-0). Jackson also had five assists.

Kane led the Thundering Herd with 22 points, converting nine of his 18 shots, while D.D. Scarver, who helped key Marshall's second-half rally, finished with 20. Dennis Tinnon had nine points and nine rebounds for the Herd.

Marshall never led in the game, but stayed within striking distance through much of the second half.

Marshall's first half was much better than the disaster of their last game - a 102-46 loss at Southern Mississippi on Wednesday, where they trailed by as many as 40 before intermission.

Memphis shot 54.2 percent (13 of 24) in the first half Saturday but could manage only a 38-33 lead. Thomas, who has struggled offensively in recent games, had 12 points in the frame.

Kane led the Herd with 11 points, missing only two of his seven shots. He was the only Marshall player connecting with any accuracy, as the Herd shot 13 of 32 (40.6 percent), including 3 of 11 (27.3 percent) from 3-point range.

Memphis built the lead to double digits with eight unanswered points, capped by an offensive rebound and put-back from Tarik Black.

But Marshall answered with its own 13-3 rally to erase the Tigers' lead. Kane had a couple of baskets and Scarver added a 3-pointer.

The game remained close as Memphis suffered through foul problems, and Marshall continued to chip away at the lead.

Scarver had seven early points in the half, and his 3-pointer pulled Marshall within 49-47.

While Memphis didn't relinquish the lead, it never created much of a buffer either, holding the lead at five to seven points through the middle stages of the second half.

Marshall was able to stay close by taking the ball to the rim, creeping within four points on several occasions.

Then Elijah Pittman scored inside with 3:10 left and Marshall trailed only 66-64. Less than a minute later, Scarver connected on a three and the Thundering Herd was within 68-67.

Memphis still held a 71-69 lead, but Geron Johnson missed two free throws with 20.5 seconds left, giving Marshall a chance.

Pittman's 3-pointer with 4 seconds left was short, leaving Marshall no choice but to foul. Crawford hit both of the ensuing free throws, enough of a lead for Memphis to allow the uncontested 3-pointer by Kane at the end.

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MLB Rumors: Josh Donaldson could reportedly end up with a four-year contract

MLB Rumors: Josh Donaldson could reportedly end up with a four-year contract

As the hopes for Anthony Rendon's return to Washington fade fast following Stephen Strasburg's record seven-year $245 million contract, Josh Donaldson comes more into focus for Nationals faithful. 

The Nationals had reported interest in him as far back as mid-November, and if they want to spend big on Strasburg and less on third base rather than spend on Rendon and find a cheaper pitcher, Donaldson represented the most value. 

But every team that misses out on Rendon will probably look right to Donaldson, and that reality is reportedly driving up his price. 

According to Mark Bowman, there is a growing expectation Donaldson will end up with a four-year contract. That might be a problem given he's entering his age-34 season, but for the Nationals, there isn't a major difference between a four-year deal and a two-year deal for Donaldson. 

He's coming off a very productive season in Atlanta, where he hit 37 home runs and drove in 94 runs to go along with a .379 on-base percentage. Realistically, Washington would need at least two years of solid production at third base from him to get ample return on their investment. 

Carter Kieboom figures to be in the mix this season at third or second base, but he's much better suited as a middle-infielder. Then, the Nationals have 19-year-old Luis Garcia on the way as one of their top infield prospects. 

By the time Garcia hits the majors he'll ideally go to third base to join Kieboom and Trae Turner as Washington's infield of the future.

And as Bowman notes, the DH could be coming to the National League by after the 2021 season. If Donaldson can still slug, that's an easy move for him to make and play out the last two years of his deal. 

So while a potential four-year contract can and should cause a bit of sticker shock, the Nationals are constructed where they can take that risk to help their team in the short term should Rendon leave for greener pastures. 

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Stephen Strasburg had a specific request in contract negotiations with Nationals

Stephen Strasburg had a specific request in contract negotiations with Nationals

According to Scott Boras, Stephen Strasburg had a specific request of the Nationals before he signed the largest contract ever for a pitcher. 

"He certainly wanted to make sure that [Nationals Park] was open every day in the offseason so that he can go there and work out," Boras said Monday. 

Per Jesse Dougherty, Strasburg has been working out since mid-November. For reference, the Nationals won the World Series on October 30. No days off. 

It's no surprise the Nationals granted the World Series MVP's request. Strasburg is coming off the best year of his career, and he wants to make sure he can work out all winter in the park he'll spend the rest of his career? What a difficult decision. 

Strasburg may not be the highest-paid pitcher of all time for long. Gerrit Cole will most likely command more years and a higher AAV from whoever he signs with this winter. 

But the more important thing for the Nationals and probably their fans as well, is that Strasburg will wear the "Curly W" for his entire career. And maybe another World Series trophy is in play with him, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin headlining the best pitching staff in baseball. 

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