Monarchs’ reign over Tigers ends
Towson ended its three-game losing skid Wednesday night when it won at Old Dominion 68-66 behind the play of junior forward Jerrelle Benimon.
For the Tigers (11-12, 6-4 Colonial Athletic Association), it was the team’s ninth road victory, the most since the 1995-96 season, and the second win against the Monarchs (2-18, 0-8 CAA) in 29 tries, according to Head Coach Pat Skerry. The last time Old Dominion lost to Towson was the 2002 season.
“Any road win in this conference is big,” Skerry said. “We got back to our formula. We defended and we really rebounded the ball, which is what we need to do to be successful. It was a big win for our University.”
Benimon ended his two-game streak without a “double-double” by recording his nation-leading 15th of the season.
He scored 21 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked five shots. It was Benimon’s 11th consecutive game scoring in double figures.
“He took over late [Wednesday] night,” Skerry said. “He just physically dominated the game, as did some of our other guys.”
Towson came out hot and took a 40-26 lead going into halftime, but Old Dominion did not stay down for long.
The Monarchs came out of the half on a 17-2 run and took a 43-42 lead with 11:28 remaining in the game.
“They made some tough shots, but the biggest thing is that we turned the ball over,” Skerry said. “We didn’t do a good job of meeting passes and we allowed them to run through some passing lanes. Normally we do a good job of that.”
The Tigers and Monarchs battled back-and-forth for the rest of the game.
With 30 seconds remaining, center DeShawn Painter hit a three-pointer off the glass for Old Dominion that cut Towson’s lead to 66-64.
Freshman point guard Jerome Hairston was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit one free throw.
After Dimitri Batten missed a floater, Benimon secured the ball and was fouled. He too made one free throw and sealed the game for Towson.
Painter, who transferred from NC State, scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Monarchs.
“He’s a big kid, he played a lot at NC State. He’s very talented,” Skerry said. “Every shot he made was a tough shot. Bilal Dixon did a good job guarding him. He got nothing easy.”
Junior guards Marcus Damas, Rafriel Guthrie and Mike Burwell scored 15, 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Dixon also played well, Skerry said, grabbing 10 rebounds. It was his sixth game of the season with 10 or more rebounds.
The Tigers also outrebounded the Monarchs 49-34, including 22 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second chance points.
The 49 rebounds was Towson’s season high and it came against the third-best rebounding team in the CAA.
Skerry said he recognized there was a sense of urgency from the team after losing three consecutive games.
“The good thing is that expectations have changed,” Skerry said. “There are expectations that we can, and should win every night.”
Towson will have a welcomed four-day break before taking the court at home Monday night against UNC-Wilmington. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.