TOWSON, Md. - Senior forward Michelle Peebles grabbed a key defensive rebound with two seconds remaining to help the Towson University women's basketball team secure a 55-53 victory over UNC Wilmington, Sunday afternoon. The Tigers (7-11, 1-6 CAA) snapped a six-game losing streak as Peebles posted her first career "double-double" in the win, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"I'm excited for the kids," said Towson coach Joe Mathews. "You've got to earn it in this league. No one is going to feel sorry for you (despite injuries, etc.)."
It was a game of runs, as the Tigers and Seahawks (2-15, 1-5 CAA) battled through five ties and six lead changes.
The Tigers opened the game on an 11-2 run behind seven points from junior guard Tanisha McTiller. UNC Wilmington responded with a 17-2 scoring stretch to take a 19-13 lead with 7:42 to play in the half. Dana Brown contributed five points for the Seahawks. Towson scored 10 of the game's next 14 points to tie the contest at 23-23 with 3:23 on the clock. Sophomore forward Camille Alberson scored half of the Tigers' points during that run. UNC Wilmington closed the half on a 7-4 run to take a 30-27 lead at the half.
UNC Wilmington shot 60% from the field in the first half while the Tigers shot 37.9%. The Tigers held a slim 14-13 edge in the rebounding battle through the first 20 minutes.
The two squads traded baskets over the first seven minutes of the second half as Brown's three-pointer at 13:32 gave the visitors a 38-35 advantage. Redshirt junior forward Nyree Williams hit a pair of free throws at 12:39 which started a key stretch for the Tigers, as they scored eight straight points. Sophomore forward Nicole Hamilton-Carter played a key role in that run for the Tigers, as she took a charge and scored a jumper.
"That was a huge part of the second half," said Mathews. "I felt like that if someone could give Nyree a rest it could help us. Nikki got in, took a huge charge and then got the bucket. It was a huge turning point. That was the swing that got us to where we needed to be, so a lot of credit to her."
Trailing 45-40, UNC Wilmington scored six of the game's next eight points to make it a 47-46 game with 6:42 to play. Peebles had a lay-up and made a pair of free throws to push the home team's advantage back to five, 51-46 with 4:42 to play. Karneisha Garrett and Peebles traded baskets over the next three minutes as Peebles' bucket at 1:20 put the Tigers up, 55-50. Tawanna Lee drained a three-pointer with 1:08 to go to pull the Seahawks to within two, 55-53. Each team missed a scoring opportunity as a Garrett rebound with 11 seconds left gave the visitors one last chance. Lee had a lay-up with two seconds left that missed and Peebles grabbed the rebound to secure the victory.
Towson shot 37.9% from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting 37.9%. UNC Wilmington shot 32.1% in the second half and 43.8% for the game. The Tigers won the rebounding battle, 36-28.
McTiller added 13 points and seven rebounds in the win while Williams had seven rebounds, four points and three steals. Freshman guard Dominique Johnson had eight assists and four steals in the contest.
Garrett led UNC Wilmington with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Brown added 14 points and three assists.
The Tigers return to action on Thursday, Jan. 31 when they host James Madison at 7 p.m.