Tigers drop two in Lumberjack Classic
After holding home court in the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland Tournament last weekend, Towson took to the road this weekend to Nacogdoches, Texas where it competed in the Lumberjack E-Tech Classic.
The Tigers left Texas still searching for their first road win of the season, as they lost to host Stephen F. Austin on Friday night, 79-69, and to Sam Houston State on Saturday, 67-55.
“We were a very good road team last year, and to reach our goals we obviously have to become a better road team,” Head Coach Pat Skerry said. “It’s clear looking at our stats that we’re not guarding on the road as well as we’ve guarded at home and we’re not taking care of the ball as well.”
After trailing for most of the first half Saturday against the Bearkats (7-3), the Tigers (6-4) went on a 9-1 run to pull within five at 30-25.
However, Sam Houston State – who defeated Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison by a point Friday – would add a basket and hold Towson scoreless for the remainder of the half to take a 32-25 lead going into halftime.
In the first half, the Tigers shot just 38.5 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers. They would finish the game with 15.
Things didn’t get much better for Towson in the second half, as Sam Houston State clawed its way to a 23-point lead at one point.
Free throws doomed the Tigers, as they made only 10-of-23 (43.5 percent) from the charity stripe.
Senior forward Terrance Motley and junior guard Jabari Peters scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Bearkats.
They also shot 43 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range.
Senior guard Rafriel Guthrie led Towson with 14 points off of 5-of-9 shooting from the field.
Senior forward Jerrelle Benimon added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Sophomore guard Four McGlynn contributed 10 points.
“We were out-played last night and that’s on me,” Skerry said. “We shot around 40 percent from the foul line, that’s obviously going to hurt you, and our better players just didn’t have good weekends.”
Friday night’s game against the Lumberjacks (8-2) was not your typical loss.
Despite out-shooting Stephen F. Austin 55 percent to 41.8 percent and winning the rebounding margin 31-25, Towson committed 20 turnovers compared to just seven by Stephen F. Austin.
Benimon and Guthrie – who led the team with 16 points each – both fouled out.
“Statistically, I liked the way the game went,” Skerry said. “We just turned it over. The one thing we’ve been trying to harp on is our turnover percentage. Friday night we were at 30 percent; it’s death for us. We just can’t win. And I think what happens is that ends up affecting you defensively as well.”
The Tigers held a 56-49 lead with 11:16 remaining in the second half, but the Lumberjacks went on an 11-4 run to tie the game at 60 with 5:34 left.
Down by 3 with 3:34 remaining, Benimon – who also added six rebounds and five assists – picked up his fifth foul and had to watch the rest of the game from the bench.
Fifty-eight seconds later, Guthrie also fouled out. The Tigers were down 70-64 at that point.
Stephen F. Austin would hold on to win, and now hold a 22-game home-winning streak.
“We had them down eight with eight to go, but they’re very good,” Skerry said. “We missed a couple free throws and the kid Haymon got off. We had some defensive breakdowns. With all that said we were in a position to win.”
Four players scored in double-digits for the Lumberjacks.
Sophomore Thomas Walkup scored a game-high 20 points, including 6-of-11 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line.
Seniors Nikola Gajic and Desmond Haymon each scored 18 points, and junior forward Jacob Parker added 14.
“To their credit, they’re good. They don’t beat themselves,” Skerry said. “We have a phrase, ‘Towson can’t beat Towson,’ and I thought we did that Friday night late. Unfortunately, we had a hangover and let it carry over to the next game.”
Senior forward Marcus Damas also added 11 points for the Tigers.
Towson returns home to face Central Penn College on Tuesday night.
Tip-off from SECU Arena – where the Tigers are undefeated on the season – is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“This needs to be a turning point for us, our Waterloo, where we’re really looking for the right response when a call doesn’t go our way, or a turnover, or a certain play call,” Skerry said. “We have to start getting that right response to give ourselves a chance to beat quality teams.”