| @Towson_MBB Rewind: Oregon State
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 12/30/2012

Towson (5-8) has had its up-and-downs this season, but the one thing that has stayed pretty consistent is its defense.

Legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant once said, "Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships".

That certainly can apply to basketball.

On Saturday afternoon in Corvallis, Ore., the Tigers' defense was simply extraordinary for about 20 minutes in the second half against Oregon State, as Towson wound up winning, 67-66, in overtime. With 15:28 left in the game, the Tigers found themselves down 44-25. That's when the defense kicked in.

Sophomore guard Rafriel Guthrie helped get the comeback started by scoring six of the next eight points. By the 10:00 mark, the Tigers had cut the lead to 47-38 on a Jerrelle Benimon layup. Getting the lead to single digits was huge, but it started with a defense that gave up just three points in 5:28 to allow Towson to make its run.

With 5:12 left in the game, freshman Jerome Hairston nailed a tough jumper to cut the lead to 56-52. The Tigers outscored the Beavers 27-12 in that span.

Towson eventually tied it with 1:16 left, 58-58, on a Bilal Dixon layup. So within about 14 minutes, the Tigers allowed just 14 points and scored 33.

The game went overtime after both teams made free throws to end regulation tied at 60. Oregon State's last basket in regulation was a Joe Burton layup with 5:29 left. The Beavers didn't score another basket until 1:09 left in overtime when Eric Moreland drove for a layup to tie the game at 62.

The Beavers only other basket in the last 10:30 minutes of the game took place with 17 seconds left when Ahmad Starks nailed a 3-pointer to give Oregon State the 66-65 lead. But the Tigers were still alive as Benimon dribbled the ball up the floor, saw the defense collapse on him, fed Marcus Damas, who pump faked Burton then moved ahead and launched an 18-footer to give Towson the game winner.

Towson was down 36-23 at the half and defensively was not as sharp as it had been in recent weeks.

"At halftime, I said this is the first time this year that we didn't guard a team since the Charleston game," said Towson head coach Pat Skerry on postgame on the Towson Sports Network. "We didn't play great out of the gate. Just needed to keep guarding and keep playing. Eventually the ball started going in. That's the formula we needed."

Towson came in to the Oregon State game as one of the best defensive teams in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), allowing its opponents to shoot just 39 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arc. They were taking on a 9-2 Oregon State team that had won five straight and had lost to Kansas in Kansas City by just six and to Alabama at Madison Square Garden by three. This was an outstanding offensive team that had averaged 47 percent shooting from the floor and a blistering 41 percent from 3-point range. It had also out-rebounded its opponents by 4.4 per game.

Towson's +7.5 rebounding advantage, the Tigers were outrebounded by seven at the half, 21-14. However, they turned it around in the second half led by Benimon, who had 21 boards. In fact, he's the only Division I player to post a 20-20 this year after his 20 points, 21 rebounds against OSU.

The Tigers also held the Beavers to a season-low 24 second-half points. OSU's previous low in a half this season was 27 in the second half against Purdue on Nov. 16 at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic. The Beavers shot 34.8 percent (23-66) from the field, the first time they've shot less than 40 percent in a game this season.

"I think those guys [Towson] got a little bit more physical so that we had to make tougher shots," said Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson after the game. "I thought that once they started a little bit of a run, we took some ill-advised shots. And then we just missed shots like you do sometimes.

We could have been thinking ahead to the next game; thinking ahead to the Pac-12 season; thinking ahead to signing autographs and watching the football game and having fun. You never know what goes through each individual's mind. Anyway you shake it out, we didn't play well in that stretch and gave them confidence and they felt like they could win the game. They just took it from us."

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