Tigers' Comeback Falls Short In 78-71 Loss To VCU
Courtesy: TBD  
Release: 01/14/2009
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Brian Morris Drives To The Basket Against VCU
Courtesy:Scott Thornton


TOWSON, Md. Facing one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association for the third game in a row, the Tigers (7-11, 2-4) nearly pulled off an upset of CAA pre-season favorite Virginia Commonwealth (12-5, 5-1). However, the Rams held off a fierce Tiger comeback and pulled out a 78-71 CAA victory over Towson in the Towson Center on Wednesday evening.

     The Tigers, who had dropped back-to-back games to CAA co-leaders George Mason and Northeastern, battled VCU on nearly-even terms for most of the evening. But, the Rams slowly built upon a 47-43 lead with 12:51 remaining and seemed to have clinched a win when a three-point basket by senior guard Eric Maynor gave VCU a 70-55 lead with 4:05 left in the game.

      Maynor, the CAA’s Pre-Season Player of the Year, led all scorers in the contest. The CAA’s scoring leader, he tallied 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the floor and four-of-seven shooting from three-point range. Maynor, who was 7-for-8 at the foul line, also had a game high nine assists.

      “When you play VCU, the big factor is how you control Eric Maynor,” said Towson Coach Pat Kennedy. “He really hurt us tonight.”

      Trailing by 70-55, the Tigers picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and staged a furious comeback. Over the next three minutes, Towson outscored VCU by 14-2. When junior guard Josh Thornton nailed a pair of free throws with 51 seconds remaining, the Rams’ lead was down to 73-69.

      With 40 seconds left, sophomore guard Joey Rodriguez gave the Rams some breathing room when he made a pair of free throws, giving VCU a 75-69 advantage. A short jumper by sophomore Jarrel Smith with 31 seconds left pulled Towson to within 75-71.

      But, the Tigers could not get any closer as Rodriguez connected on three of four free throw attempts in the final 28 seconds.

      Led by Maynor, who scored eight points in the final 4:37 of the first half, the Rams took a 37-32 lead at halftime by outscoring the Tigers by 10-5 in the final minutes of the half.

      Maynor led VCU with 14 points and five assists before intermission as VCU overcame an early five-point deficit. After Thornton scored eight points in the first five minutes, the Tigers owned a 14-9 lead. However, the Rams responded with a 14-1 spurt over the next six minutes to grab a 23-15 advantage.

      But, the Tigers chipped away at the lead and tied the game at 27-27 with 5:03 remaining on a steal and fast break layup by Thornton.

      “Our guys did a great job of coming back,” added Kennedy. “But those six and a half minutes in the first half when we didn’t score a field goal was the pivotal point.”

      After halftime, VCU held Towson without a basket for the first 4:28 as the Rams extended their lead to 44-33 early in the second half.

      In the second half, VCU protected its lead by shooting 52 per cent from the floor. The Rams made 13 of 25 field goal attempts.

      While Maynor led VCU with 27 points, the Rams placed three other players in double figures. Larry Sanders, a 6-10 sophomore, scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds as he posted his fifth “double double” of the season. Junior Kirill Pishchainikov added 12 points and seven rebounds as he made 6 of 9 shots from the floor. Rodriguez added 11 points and four assists.

      Thornton showed the way for Towson with 20 points while Junior Hairston recorded his fourth “double double” of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Smith added 13 points for the Tigers.

      The win was VCU’s fourth victory in a row. It also marked 15th time in 16 games that the Rams beat Towson.

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