A Look Back at @Towson_MBB's Exhibition Win
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 11/13/2012
TOWSON, Md. - It's not always easy to get up for an exhibition game against a Division II team that most feel you should pummel by 20-plus points. To make matters worse, the Tigers scheduled their exhibition game three days after they lost to the College of Charleston, 75-58 in their season opener.
When Towson faced Goldey-Beacom (Wilmington, Del.) on Monday night, it was hoping to see similar results to the first exhibition game, when the Tigers defeated Bloomsburg, 87-65. They ended up winning the game against Goldey-Beacom, but needed a strong final five minutes to win by eight, 72-64.
"We didn't take them seriously enough," said center Bilal Dixon. "We went out there saying they were a Division II team and they came out and punched us in our face in the second half. We needed that. We can't take anybody lightly. We still won, but we will look at the tape and see what we did wrong and learn from it."
In the first half, Towson played outstanding defense, holding Goldey-Beacom to 23.1 percent shooting. The Tigers led by as many as 21 points and took a 34-17 advantage into the break. But in the second half, the defense got lax and the Lightning got hot from the perimeter. Goldey-Beacom shot 61 percent from the field in the second half and at one point tied the game, 53-53, with 6:22 left.
"Obviously a disappointing start to the second half," said Towson head coach Pat Skerry. "That's not the way we wanted to script it. We were good defensively in the first half and bad in the second. We are inconsistent defensively. When we struggle on offense, we let that effect the rest of our game which is not a good formula. We have to get that right."
Fortunately, the Tigers finished the game strong, led by freshman Jerome Hairston, who hit two three-pointers and had a fast-break dunk in the final five minutes to lead Towson to its second exhibition win.
"We're expecting a lot out of him," said Skerry about Hairston. "A lot of the defensive stuff is new for him. He clearly was the difference down the stretch though. We have a guy that can make some winning plays. He's talented and competitive. He's really good if we can get him the ball out in the open floor. He made some very big strides forwards tonight as far as leading a team in crunch time. That, for a freshman, is what I'm excited about. To see him step up is pretty exciting to me."
Understandably, this team is going through some growing pains. There are seven new players and four new starters on the squad. At times, the team looks as though they are making progress, like the first half of the Goldey-Beacom game of the second half of the College of Charleston game (when they scored 44 points). But then there's the first half against the College of Charleston when the Tigers got behind, 40-14.
"It was shocking (how the team played in the first half at Charleston)," said junior guard Mike Burwell, who led the team with 16 points and also grabbed six boards against Goldey-Beacom. "Guys came in and we were thinking that we'd be alright. We didn't come in with that fight and fierceness. At halftime, guys (looked up) and saw that the score wasn’t pretty. Are we really playing in this game right now? Do we want our supporters to see that we are letting them down that much? We dug down deep and just played hard."
One player who gave a consistent performance in Monday night's exhibition game was junior guard Rafriel Guthrie. The Washington D.C. native, who attended the College of Southern Idaho, finished with 11 points, four steals and two assists in 28 minutes. The only negative for Guthrie was his 4-for-9 shooting from the free throw line. The Tigers as a team shot just 52.2 percent (12-for-23).
"Guthrie really helped us tonight," said Skerry. "I should have played him more at Charleston. He brings some grit and energy. He can be a key guy by picking up loose change and garbage stuff. There's value in that. My hope is that he's starting to grasp that. Overall, I was really happy with his play."
Towson will now gear up for the Comfort Suites Invitational, which is held in Richmond, Ky. and hosted by Eastern Kentucky University. Towson will face Radford on Friday at 8 p.m., starting a stretch of four games in four nights.
"I do think our depth will help us this weekend if we guard," said Skerry. "Radford played very well against Wake Forest (losing 79-67). They took them down to the wire. We have to spend a lot of time on our defense. Our offense will be a work in progress with a lot of new guys. On defense, we need to be more consistent for 40 minutes."


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