Tigers hunt down Blue Hens 85-65
In front of a record crowd, which included World Champion receiver for the Baltimore Ravens Torrey Smith, Towson crushed Delaware 85-65 to complete the season sweep over its rival.
The Tigers (13-12, 8-4 Colonial Athletic Association) are off to their best start since the 1995-96 season.
For the first time since the 2006-07 season, they have swept two opponents. Earlier this season, Towson swept UNC-Wilmington.
Defending and rebounding were two pivotal keys to Towson’s win over Delaware (11-12, 6-4 CAA).
“We know they’re a good program,” Head Coach Pat Skerry said of Delaware. “We don’t really go into it saying ‘We got to get a sweep.’ We know what we have to do to have a chance to win.”
The Tigers outrebounded the Blue Hens 51-27 and held them to 28.8 percent from the field (17-59).
“We played the best we’ve played all year for 40 minutes,” Skerry said. “Our guys played very well and it’s a great win for us.”
Four players scored in double figures for Towson, which makes the Tigers record 10-1 when that happens.
Junior forward Jerrelle Benimon led Towson with his nation-leading 17th “double-double.”
Benimon scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and tied his season-high in assists with five.
Freshman point guard Jerome Hairston was second on the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by junior forward Marcus Damas who scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Junior Guard Mike Burwell rounded out the Tigers who scored in double-figures with 12 points.
In both of the past two games, Towson has scored over 80 points and has outscored its opponent by a combined 33 points.
“We’re not turning the ball over as much,” Benimon said. “We’re getting more shots up as a team and we’re getting more shots in the paint. When we do take threes, its mostly off the penetration and kick out, so people are shooting better from three now.”
Guard Devon Saddler led the Blue Hens with 20 points, one point above his season average. Saddler, however, got 10 points from the free throw line and shot a dismal 4-20 from the field.
In the two games against Delaware this season, Damas has been a key defender on Saddler and has been his main competitor.
“I take great pride in [defending] and making a good scorer in Saddler struggle to score points,” Damas said.
Skerry also credited Damas and the rest of the team on their hard defense against Saddler and the rest of the Blue Hens.
“I thought we did a really good job,” Skerry said. “We made him take tough twos. He got some free throws but anytime a guy has to take 20 shots to get 20 points, we did an unbelievable job on him. Marcus has done a great job on him both games.”
Towson was in control from the beginning of the game.
The Tigers got out to a quick 11-0 lead and took a 33-23 lead going into halftime. Towson then came out in the second half on fire, shooting 69.2 percent from the field in the half to seal the victory.
“I told our guys it’s a toughness game,” Skerry said. “More than physical toughness, it’s mental toughness. I thought that’s where our guys showed great growth tonight. We didn’t lose focus, we didn’t lose composure.”
Towson will play on the road for its next three games, starting with a matchup against Georgia State Saturday, where the Tigers will be looking for revenge after suffering a two-point home loss to the Panthers Jan. 21.
Tipoff from Atlanta, Ga. is set for 2 p.m.