Towson wins three games in a row over break
After holding home court against cross-town rival UMBC with a 75-60 win last Tuesday, Towson had two games in less then 24 hours as it hosted the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
The Tigers cruised to victories in both games, defeating The Citadel, 84-59, on Friday before downing Abilene Christian, 74-47.
With both wins, Towson (6-2) is off to its best start as a Division-I program and its best start since the 1977-78 season when it began 21-2.
“That’s a real big credit to our players,” Head Coach Pat Skerry said. “We’re focused on the process and trying to get better every day, so hopefully we’re at a position late in the year where we can reach our ultimate goal.”
Skerry said that his team welcomed the challenge of playing two games with little rest between them.
“It’s never easy. I was really impressed with the first 20 minutes against Abilene where we put them away early,” Skerry said. “We had great defensive efforts against two good three-point shooting clubs. We hope to have these quick turnarounds. We have one next weekend, in the [Colonial Athletic Association] Tournament, and hopefully in the postseason.”
The Tigers saw balanced efforts in both games.
Five players scored in double-digits for Towson on Saturday. Senior guard Rafriel Guthrie led all scorers with 15 points. Sophomore guard Four McGlynn and senior forward Marcus Damas each scored 14 points, senior forward Jerrelle Benimon had 13 and senior guard Mike Burwell added 10.
Benimon led the team with seven rebounds and five assists, and the Tigers outrebounded the Wildcats 36-23.
“I thought our defense and our rebounding was outstanding all weekend, and so was our unselfishness,” Skerry said.
The Wildcats (2-8) were led forward Jacob Lancaster, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. Abilene Christian’s leading scorer, Harrison Hawkins, was held to just nine points.
Leading by only seven (28-21) with 6:05 remaining in the first half, the Tigers went on a 18-4 run to end the half, leading by 21 at 46-25. McGlynn hit three three-pointers during the run to help give Towson a comfortable halftime lead.
“[Four] had a super weekend. He was lights out; guys were looking for him,” Skerry said. “He’s guarding much better too. We’re going to need him, so he needs to continue to do what he’s doing. He’s capable of doing it.”
The Wildcats would get would never come close in the second half, as the Tigers increased its lead to as much as 28 before winning by 27.
In Friday night’s contest against The Citadel, four players scored in double-figures for Towson, including a season-high 19 points from McGlynn, who went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Burwell scored a season-high with 17 points and had a career-high six assists. Damas added 16 points and Benimon scored 13.
Sophomore forward/center Timajh Parker-Rivera grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who outrebounded the Bulldogs 48-33.
“Mike is playing well. He’s kind of the glue on both ends of the floor,” Skerry said. “I thought [Jerrelle] had a really good weekend. … [Parker-Rivera] was super today, [freshman center] Walter [Foster] was super today. I thought Marcus was good all weekend and [Guthrie] is punching in double-figures each night. … We’ve got a solid eight.”
Freshman guard Warren Sledge led The Citadel with 14 points, and freshman forward Brian White added 10.
The Citadel led 19-17 with 9:04 left to play in the first half, but Towson closed the half on a 22-6 run to lead 39-25 at the half.
From there, the Tigers would increase its lead by as much as 38 points before winning by 25.
Towson will now have the week off before traveling to Nacogdoches, Texas to participate in the Lumberjack E-Tech Classic.
Towson will play Stephen F. Austin at 9 p.m. Friday, before taking on Sam Houston State on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
“We have some days in a row to practice. We haven’t had a lot of practice time, so we’ve got to improve on some things. We’ve got another quick turnaround. We know Stephen F. Austin is very good. They were in the NIT,” Skerry said. “To be successful, you have to win on the road, and we haven’t been able to win on the road yet. It’s going to be a big challenge but its one I know our guys are excited for.”