| @Towson_MBB is Close but No Cigar
Courtesy: Mat Schlissel, TowsonTigers.com  
Release: 01/24/2013
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Going into Wednesday night, Towson had faced George Mason 39 times since 1972 and won only eight times. The Tigers had lost to the Patriots 19 times in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) - 15 times by double figures.
 
Wednesday may have been the best opportunity for the second-place Tigers to take the Patriots in a while. Towson was at home playing in front of 2,005 spectators - the largest crowd of the season.
 
However, the Patriots forced Jerrelle Benimon into a 5-for-15 shooting night and their depth posed a problem for the Tigers. George Mason claimed a 77-67 victory.
 
Statistically, Benimon didn't have a bad line. He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds with three assists and four blocks. But he also tuned the ball over four times and made just five-of-nine foul shots.
 
"For the first time in a while, he let his frustration get to him,"said Towson head coach Pat Skerry after the game. "He hurt us offensively and defensively. He took bad shots and was bad defensively. He's got to play better."
 
Towson has relied on Benimon all season, and for the most part he has come through. He has posted 14 double-doubles, including the first 20-20 in the nation this season, and was leading the nation in rebounding going into George Mason game (11.7 rpg).
 
For the second time in two games, Benimon got into foul trouble in the first half, picking up his first foul at 8:11 and second at 8:03 left. Bryon Allen made one-of-two foul shots after Benimon's second foul to put the Patriots ahead 22-21. They never trailed again.

Without Benimon in the game to help with George Mason's full-court press, the Patriots built the lead to 35-24, and Skerry was forced to bring Benimon back in with 4:37 left. The Tigers cut the deficit to a 41-34 halftime lead, but the damage was done.
 
Against James Madison on Saturday, Towson was able withstand the loss of Benimon in the latter stages of the first half. They couldn't overcome it against the athletic Patriots.
 
Towson's defense, which had allowed teams to shoot less than 39 percent from the field, struggled in the first half, giving up 41 points and allowing the Patriots to shoot 50 percent from floor.

In the previous game against Georgia State, the Tigers allowed the Panthers to shoot 11-of-22 from the 3-point line (50 percent). That wasn't a problem on Wednesday night. George Mason didn't even hit a three in the second half and wound up shooting just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc (18 percent). George Mason was able to get to the paint and finish drives, out-scoring the Tigers 34-20 in the paint for the game.
 
Skerry has reiterated all season the formula to be successful has to start with defense and rebounding. The Tigers bounced back from a poor night on the boards against Georgia State to out-rebound George Mason, 44-34. They also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, which may have been easier to come by as they made just 24-of-64 shots (37.5 percent).
 
"If that happens (consistently), we'll lose," said Skerry. "That's reality. We can't win shootouts. It's not going to happen. We might like to, we might think we can, but it's not going to happen. They are a good team. The run good stuff and are well-coached. If we didn't play that hard on the backboards, we'd get beat by a lot worse. "
 
On the bright side, Towson never stopped hustling and kept cutting the deficit to three and four points but were never able to get over the hump. Sophomore Rafriel Guthrie kept the Tigers in the game with a career-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Towson got 29 points from its limited bench, which even out-scored the Patriots' 10-man reserves.
 
Towson has lost two straight after winning six of seven. They get back to the court on Saturday night when they face a hard-luck William & Mary team that just lost a double-overtime game to Northeastern, 95-91.
 
To get back on track, the Tigers have to go back to the formula of defense and rebounding before they return to the Towson Center on Feb. 4 to face UNC Wilmington.


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