| @Towson_MBB Showing Balance on Offense
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 01/20/2013
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When junior Jerrelle Benimon picked up his second foul with 8:10 left in the first half, Towson trailed James Madison, 15-14, on Saturday at the Towson Center. Without their leading scorer, the Tigers managed to take the lead, 29-21, with 2:23 left on a 3-pointer by freshman Jerome Hairston.

Benimon playing just nine minutes in the first half. The big man from Virginia scored just two points and grabbed two rebounds, but his teammates stepped up, including freshman Timajh Parker-Rivera who scored four points, had a block, two rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes. More importantly, he and grad student Bilal Dixon held Rayshawn Goins and Taylor Bessick to a combined four points on 1-of-10 shooting. Goins came into the game averaging 14.9 points per game, and Bessick was starting his third game and beginning to come on as a freshman.

Benimon came into the game averaging more than 36 minutes per game and has played 40 or more minutes four times. The last time he played less than 30 minutes, he scored six points in 26 minutes in a loss to North Dakota State on Dec. 15. Benimon was also hampered by an ankle injury he suffered in the Temple game on Dec. 12, hence the lack of production coming off a 30-point game.

Since that game, Towson has gone 6-2. The Tigers' confidence level has gone up and so has their play.

"I feel like any game we come into, we're built to win," said Hairston. "Anybody in our first six or seven players can get 10 points. We're starting to put it together, and I think people will see that we can be a force to be reckoned with."

On paper, you can understand why a fan might be worried when Benimon gets in foul trouble. He's averaging around 17 points per game and there's nobody else on the team averaging in double figures.

But against the Dukes, the Tigers out-scored James Madison 42-19 in the second half. They got 21 points off the bench and had five players in double figures, including Benimon, Dixon and Hairston who each had 13 points. The defense was once again outstanding, as they allowed JMU to shoot just 25.5 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc.

"Their starting five is really good," said James Madison coach Matt Brady. "These guys can all get double digits. I think they got good pieces here and they are playing defense at a high level."

The Tigers still don't have a player averaging double digits in points other than Benimon, but they do have three players who average 9.0-9.9 points per game in junior Marcus Damas, Hairston and junior Mike Burwell, who had 10 points against the Dukes.

Towson is 10-9 overall and second place in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) at 5-1 thanks to its sound defense and dominant work on the glass. The Tigers rank first in the CAA in field goal percentage allowed (39 percent) and first in rebounding margin (+5.7).

But the offense has been inconsistent for most of the year. As a team, the Tigers are shooting 42.8 percent from the field (fourth in the CAA) and 29 percent from 3-point range (ninth in the CAA). They are also last in the CAA in assists with 9.5 per game and last in assist/turnover ratio (9.5 to 15.1).

On Saturday, the Tigers recorded a season-high 15 assists and turned the ball over 13 times. If Towson can continue to improve its offensive efficiency to add to the already sturdy defense and strong rebounding presence, the Tigers will be tough to beat.

"Obviously, this is the best we've played all year, said Towson head coach Pat Skerry. "We played really good defense. It's a good win for us and we beat a very talented team. We try to pride ourselves on defense and rebounding and we were able to do that today."

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